Free school meal roll out progresses
West Lothian Council is progressing with plans to ensure free school meals will be provided to all primary pupils in the future.
The council is already providing free school meals to all P1-P5 pupils. West Lothian Council produces over 100,000 school meals each month.
The Scottish Government announced as part of the 2021/22 Scottish budget that they will provide councils with funding for free school meals for all P4 to P7 children.
A report at the Council Executive this week confirmed that the council has recently invested over £270,000 in new catering equipment that enabled the provision to be in place for P4. Temporary measures are currently in place to enable the P5 provision but these are not sustainable in the medium and longer term. Upgrades to kitchen facilities will be undertaken over the Easter holidays at two primary schools, Blackridge in Blackridge and Carmondean in Livingston, at a total cost of £627,000.
The Scottish Government has committed to provide £30 million of capital funding for the roll out of free school meal provision to P4 to P5 across all 32 councils and it is estimated that the council's share of this will be £900,000.
Significant capital works will be required to extend provision to P6 to P7 children and it is estimated that these will cost an additional £7 million in addition to revenue/running costs. The council is awaiting confirmation from the Scottish Government on the timescales and funding for the roll out to P6 and P7 pupils.
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said:
"Free school meal provision is very important which is why we agreed to freeze school meal prices for pupils in West Lothian who are not yet able to receive a free school meal, and also freeze process for secondary school pupils."
"The investment in facilities within West Lothian schools to cater for the large increase in meal provision is significant and we are pleased that this work continues to move forward."