School Meal debts to be cancelled by City Council

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school meal debts to be cancelled by council

Glasgow City Council has unanimously voted in favour of scrapping school meal debts in the city’s schools.

It is hoped the measure will help families who are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

The move, which will cost an estimated £300,000, will be covered by council reserves.

Education convener Christina Cannon said there was evidence many children were going hungry as families struggled with cost of living pressures.

Ms Cannon said the move would be especially helpful for families who may not be eligible for free meals but are “just coping”.

A survey published by the Scottish government last month suggested that nearly 60% of pupils sometimes went to bed or school hungry, while 3% said they always went to bed hungry.

“The stark reality is that children and young people are coming to school or going to bed hungry – pupils told us this in our recent health and wellbeing survey and in 2023 no child or young person will go hungry in our schools,” Ms Cannon added

“Our families deserve better and that is why we will do everything in our power to deliver for Glasgow’s children and young people.”

As well as wiping of the current debt, councillors are asking for an update to school meal debt policy in the city which will ensure no child is turned away if they do not have the means to pay for a school meal.

Feed the Weans campaign

In 2019, there were more than 41,000 pupils attending primary schools in the city.

School lunches are currently free in Scotland for all pupils in council schools in primary 1-5 classes, saving parents about £9.50 per week.

The Scottish government had been planning to extend this to all P6 and P7 pupils but this has been delayed.

Children from low income families may be eligible for free lunches at school.

A campaign – Feed the Weans – was launched earlier this month, with activists from the trade union Unite, the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Together Against Debt calling for an end to means-based entitlement.

Unite senior organiser Joe Rollin said the level of food poverty in Glasgow was “absolutely shameful” and the council’s move would be “a really significant step forward for families”.

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