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UNION BACKS FREE SCHOOL MEALS BILL

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Unison has thrown its weight behind the School Meals (Scotland) Bill being promoted by several MSPs. ...
Unison has thrown its weight behind the School Meals (Scotland) Bill being promoted by several MSPs.

In its response to consultation, the union backed the bill which aims to deliver a

free school meal to all Scotland's children.

'Unison thinks that we should establish a child's right to a free, healthy

and nutritious meal,' Said Matt Smith, Scottish secretary of Unison. 'Our

members who are the key to the success of school meals, tell us that free

school meals still have a stigma attached. In fact 20% of them go unclaimed

by pupils entitled to them. This would remove the stigma and allow pupils

from low-paid families who are not currently entitled to free meals to

benefit.'

Unison has commissioned research across the UK and points out that the

price of meals in Scottish schools varies greatly from 95p in Dumfries and

Galloway primary schools to£1.85 in Edinburgh secondaries. 'The price of

school meals has risen ahead of inflation over the last six years,' said Mr Smith.

'This Bill would end this huge price variation, ensuring that all

children are able to access decent food regardless of ability to pay.'

Unison's response also says that a greater take up of school meals would:

* help social skills in children

* go some way to counter the effect of mass marketing of fast foods

* improve social inclusion, health and employment

However the union wants Scottish ministers to re-introduce nutritional

standards, as has already been done in England and Wales; and include

trade unions representing school meals staff as well as pupils in the

discussion on food that is nutritious and likley to appeal to the customer.

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