Will kids get free school meals over the summer holidays? Voucher scheme in Scotland explained - and who is eligible

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The First Minister confirmed the Scottish government will continue to provide its free school meal programme over the summer holiday period

Thousands of children across Scotland receive free school meals during term time thanks to a government-run scheme.

The free meals were introduced by the Scottish government in a bid to combat malnourishment and avoid children being too hungry to concentrate during lessons.

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In England, the UK government agreed on Tuesday (16 June) to extend the free meal voucher scheme for children during the summer holidays, thanks to a campaign led by 22-year-old footballer Marcus Rashford.

Is your child eligible for free school meals?Is your child eligible for free school meals?
Is your child eligible for free school meals?

But will children in Scotland be supported during the summer holidays?

Will Scottish kids get free school meals this summer?

Those who normally receive free school meals will be supported by receiving food vouchers, meal deliveries, or bank transfers, until children return to school for the start of the next school year.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the extension of Scotland’s free school meals programme at her daily press briefing on Tuesday (16 June), with around 175,000 children to benefit from the scheme.

The school meals are provided through cash payments and supermarket vouchers, as well as by direct supply of food.

Confirming the extension, Ms Sturgeon said: “I can confirm today that this provision will be extended right throughout the summer holiday period.

“We know families are under considerable financial pressure just now and free school meals are a vital help to many, but they are also really important to the health and wellbeing of children.

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“So we will provide 12.6 million pounds in funding to local authorities to enable the continuation of free school meals during the period from the end of June to the start of the new term in August.

“The funding will be allocated in a way that allows councils, as many of them currently do, to coordinate school meal provision with wider support that they make available to families.”

Who is eligible for free school meals?

Local councils will ensure that families across Scotland will continue to receive free school meals while schools are closed.

While every child in Scotland at a local council school is eligible to receive free school lunches in primary 1, 2 and 3, regardless of financial circumstances, they will not automatically receive the meals during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Parents who want to access the school meals programme are advised to contact their local council to apply to receive them.

Some children are also eligible to receive free school lunches after primary 3 if they receive any of the following:

- Universal Credit - where your monthly earned income is not more than £610

- Income Support

- Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance

- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance

- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

- Child Tax Credit, and your income is less than £16,105

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- Both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit and an income of up to £6,900

If you are not receiving benefits or tax credits, your child might still be eligible for a free school meal if you are experiencing financial hardship hardship.

This could be because your immigration status means you can not get help from the government, or you are still waiting on your first Universal Credit notice.

If you're experiencing difficulty with the cost of school meals for any reason, contact your local council for support.

How do I apply for free school meals?

To apply for a free school lunch for your child, you simply need to contact your local council.