Leonard pledges year-round free school meals to tackle poverty

Scottish Labour's Richard Leonard has announced he will seek to roll out North Lanarkshire’s ‘Club 365’ scheme across Scotland, in a bid to end children going hungry during the school holidays, if Labour forms the next Scottish government. 

Currently, the Labour run North Lanarkshire Council provides free meals at weekends and holidays for primary school pupils who are entitled to free school meals, as well as games an activities at community centres.

A similar scheme is also in place at Labour run North Ayrshire council.

Visiting a Club 365 centre in Coatbridge today, Richard Leonard committed that a future Scottish Labour government would ensure the scheme is rolled out across Scotland, by making sure that local councils have the funding they need to deliver the scheme.

Mr Leonard said that he would ensure the scheme applies to all primary school children by extending the current Scottish provision of free school meals to include primary years 4 through to 7, benefiting up to 183,000 Scottish pupils.

Speaking as he visited a Club365 community centre in Coatbridge today, Leonard said that “No child in Scotland should be going hungry over the school holidays.

“The Club 365 scheme in North Lanarkshire is an innovative example of Labour councils tackling child poverty and working to close the attainment gap."

“The next Scottish Labour Government will roll these programmes out across the country and prioritise ending the scandal of children in Scotland going without a decent meal." he said.

“We’ll deliver that promise by making the richest pay their fair share so local councils have the funding we need, and extending free school meals to all primary school pupils.”

Many food banks across the country have reported a spiked increase in those seeking assistance during the school holidays, after families find that they lack the money to afford food between school terms.

The UK government has pledged an extra £2m of funding to address the issue, although critics have pointed out this wouldn't even begin to address the problem, with Glasgow City Council alone spending an equivalent amount in order to provide free school meals during the summer holidays.

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