South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed a Scottish Government initiative, which sees all pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 entitled to a free school meal as of today Monday 5th January.

The SNP MSP is today highlighting the importance of the policy – with 135,000 children expected to benefit and families of every eligible child saving at least £330 per year.

The move – which is being provided with £70.5m in revenue funding and £24.8m in additional capital funding by the Scottish Government – will provide P1-P3 children with guaranteed access to a healthy, nutritious meal and could positively shape children’s eating habits for the rest of their lives.

The policy has been supported by campaigning organisations across civic Scotland including Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, trade unions and Children in Scotland.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“The fact that all P1-P3 children across Dumfriesshire and the rest of Scotland will be entitled to a free school meal is a huge step forward – and is a policy which will benefit pupils and their families alike.

“It is well known that the early years of a child’s life are the most crucial and can shape their habits for a lifetime – so ensuring our children have access to a healthy lunch could see real improvements in Scotland’s public health in the future.

“Ensuring the youngest pupils in our schools have access to healthy and nutritious lunches can also play an important role in improving attainment and helping pupils to achieve their best in class.  As well as helping our children to be healthier and achieve more in school, this policy will also provide a real boost to family budgets in tough financial times – with families benefiting to the tune of £330 per year for every eligible child.

“That 135,000 children will now have access to a healthy, free school meal is another example of the Scottish Government taking real action to make our country a better place – and I am very proud that it is the SNP who are taking this important measure forward.”

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