MSP Briefing: Free
School Lunches Trial
This briefing sets out UNISON Scotland's position
on the Provision of School Lunches (Disapplication of the
Requirement to Charge) (Scotland) Order 2007, which is to
be debated in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday 3 October
UNISON Scotland has long supported campaigns
for universal free school meals. A large number of UNISON
members are involved in delivering school meal services and
participate in a number of successful initiatives promoting
nutritional standards and increased take up of school meals,
particularly in the Hungry for Success and other related
We have previously called for universal provision
on the grounds that health statistics and the generally poor
diet in Scotland demonstrate the need for urgent and innovative
action on children's eating habits. This has been reinforced
by recent research putting Scotland second only to the USA
in obesity statistics.
UNISON welcomes these trials and in fact had
proposed legislation to allow pilot projects such as these
to go ahead. In our submission and oral evidence on the Schools
(Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Bill we highlighted
the good work which was carried out in Hull in providing free
school meals to all primary school children. This increased
take up of school meals and was seen around the world as a
successful scheme. One of the reasons for providing the free
meals to all children is to reduce the stigma of means assessed
provision. Also some families on benefits are in the 'poverty
trap' of just missing out on qualifying for free meals.
These trials in five council areas (East Ayrshire,
Fife, Glasgow, Scottish Borders and West Dunbartonshire) will
provide free lunches for all Primary 1 – Primary 3 pupils.
We welcome the fact it is envisaged that if the trials prove
a success, the scheme will be rolled out nationwide.
Overall UNISON is calling for a 'Food for Good'
programme of action, with schools a key component. This would
involve nutritional standards being set for all public sector
provision of food, with regulators responsible for ensuring
compliance. This would cover schools, hospitals, prisons,
care homes etc. and would build on the work already underway
in schools and in the health service. UNISON SCOTLAND'S 'Food
for Good' Charter, launched in 2003, urged targets on the
NHS for sourcing organic and fair trade food as well as dealing
with concerns about privatisation of hospital catering and
the impact on the quality of food available to patients.
Our submission to the Communities Committee
on the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland)
Bill is at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/schoolnutrition.html
UNISON believes that it is essential for the
health of our children and future generations that urgent
action is taken to address obesity and to promote healthy
eating. This Instrument is an important step in doing that
and in gathering information about what we expect to be the
proven benefits. We urge MSPs to support these trials.
For further information contact:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. 07958 122409
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