700,000 children could receive free meals during summer under Scottish Labour plans

Scottish Labour would extend free meals to all school pupils in Scotland during the summer holidays if the party is elected into government in May, its leader Anas Sarwar has said.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has announced plans for summer meal clubs.

The proposals to provide a meal to every school pupil including secondary school pupils go further than the SNP’s plans to offer a meal to every primary school pupil during the summer holidays.

Scottish Labour estimate the cost of the plans would be around £4.5m based on a 10 per cent uptake from parents of the scheme, with a single meal costing £3.45 and offered over 42 days.

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As part of the plans, summer ‘catch-up clubs’ would be established across Scotland and available to all pupils, regardless of age.

Mr Sarwar said: “This pandemic has thrown the existing inequalities in our society into sharp relief.

“Around a quarter of children in Scotland live in relative poverty – that is a scandal.

“And we know that while many children continue to enjoy daily nutritional meals throughout the summer, many are left to go hungry.

“By introducing summer meal clubs for all of Scotland’s school pupils, Scottish Labour will put the fight against child poverty and holiday hunger at the heart of our National Recovery Plan.

“We cannot, and we must not, return to the old inequalities after this pandemic.

“This ambitious policy can ensure that no child goes hungry over the summer holidays.”

Announcing their plans for free meals during summer in February, the SNP’s John Swinney claimed one year of free school breakfasts could generate up to £9,000 of “long-term economic benefits” per child.

He added the provision of a meal every day during the summer just to children aged between six and seven could generate £200m in “cumulative benefits” for SCotland.

Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, pledged free school meals for all primary school pupils at both breakfast and lunch in September 2020.

However he was at the centre of controversy shortly afterwards after he abstained and five Scottish Conservative MSPs voted against the extension of free school meals during the Christmas holidays before the UK Government u-turned on the issue following intense pressure.

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