Jocelyn Levy
4 minutes length
Posted: 2nd November 2020

Free School Meal Provision Extended to 7-8 Year Olds in Glasgow

Glasgow council has announced its intention to extend its free school meal provision to 7-8 year olds in primary 4. The decision could mean over 1 million more free school meals could be served in the coming school year.

Glasgow’s Free School Meal Provision

The free school meal provision in Glasgow already covers students in primary 1-3, and that’s true for all of Scotland. It’s the equivalent of Universal Infant Free School Meals that cover students up to the age of 7, from reception to year 2, in England. Glasgow council has seen the value in such provisions and with its partnership with caterers, Cordia Services LLP, will be delivering school meals all over the city for those in the year above as well.

The provision will see students receive a free meal, drink, dessert and unlimited access to fruit, vegetables, soup, bread and milk. Halal and vegetarian options will be available to students as well. The current provision has helped parents in Glasgow save up to £363 a year per child and it’s hoped with the additional meals this figure will increase even further.

Making the most of the free school meal provision

With the expansion of free school meals for more students, schools will want to make sure they get the most out of their service. The best way to keep track of such operations and manage free school meal provision is when schools embrace cashless catering solutions. Cashless catering, such as BioStore’s FasTrak, allows schools to accurately track their free school meals service, so they can collect reliable reports and claim back the correct costs from the council.

With a cashless catering system that has all students registered, schools can also better understand the trends going on in their catering, and subsequently tailor their output to serve meals that are both healthy and popular with students. A cashless system also means the difference between how meals are paid for in the years in which school meals that are free, and those that are not, are handled in the same way on a day-to-day basis. Cashless catering can be a way to ensure expanded free school meal services run smoothly and effectively, with reduced queues and full bellies.

What about free school meal provision beyond Primary 4?

It’s great to see the free school meal provision get extended in the city. The value of good healthy meals on a daily basis to students’ educational and physical development can’t be underestimated. With free school meals, students are given the base platform they deserve to succeed in school.

Councillor Chris Cunningham, City Convener for Education, said:

“It was really the natural step to expand free school meals for all P4s. We want to do all that we can to help Glasgow’s families and this is another saving that I know will be welcomed and the children benefit from a nutritionally balanced meal every school day.”

But what about students beyond primary 4? Once children turn 9 years old it’s not like good nutritional meals stop being valuable to their development. Of course, like the rest of the UK, children who come from less privileged households will still qualify for free school meals, while their peers will start to pay for their food at lunch time in later school years. The reality is though, many of these children who qualify for a free school meal provision above primary 4, or year 2, do not claim them. There can be an unwanted stigma to free school meals once the provision singles out those who qualify and those who don’t.

FasTrak’s cashless catering solutions for schools can help eradicate the problem. With Cashless catering, those on free school meals are given their privacy back. They collect a free school meal in the same way that paying students do. And if you’ve been using the FasTrak cashless catering system already in previous years when meals were free for everyone, it makes it easier to continue to do so in later years when the provision is more selective.

With FasTrak, free school meals in later years are paid for in advance, just like other students’ meals are pre-paid for by parents. This means on the day, collecting free school meals is carried out with no difference to any other student, eliminating any stigma. All students could benefit from healthy regular school meals, but it’s a real shame when the students who might not have access to a wealth of healthy food at home don’t get it at school because of an uncalled for social stigma.

It’s great to see the free school meal provision extended in Glasgow, hopefully more will follow suit. But it’s vitally important that those children less privileged continue to get free school meals beyond the first few years of school, and that’s where cashless catering can help.

Related links & news stories

Evening Times: Will your child benefit from free school meals expansion?