A bid to try and get parliamentary action on free school meals for all schoolchildren has finally gone live.
Renfrewshire Labour Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling wants people in the area to sign and share the online petition to get the issue thrust into the Holyrood debating chamber.
She announced the campaign in September for the radical expansion of the existing free lunches scheme for younger primary pupils.
Cllr Ann-Dowling revealed yesterday the petition is now open, calling for free grub from nursery to the end of secondary.
She said: “This is in response to school day hunger and the cost of living crisis.
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“It is clear more needs to be done and the Scottish Government needs to know this.
“Urgent action is needed at a national level to tackle child and young person’s food poverty in Scotland.
“No child should go through the school day hungry.”
The councillor, who represents Houston, Crosslee and Linwood, said a blanket, universal policy was needed, not just the current Primary 1-5 age group.
She said free school meals for all pupils would also remove the stigma of difference as some who are eligible dont want to.
Some low-income families are not entitled to free meals as they’re just over the threshold to qualify.
Cllr Ann-Dowling said: “Food poverty is sometimes hidden within schools, especially with secondary school age pupils. While
the current free school dinner provision is intended to expand to include older primary children, no such expansion is planned to include children attending secondary school.
“But hunger doesn’t recognise an age limit, therefore the Scottish Government should not discriminate against tackling school day hunger on the basis of age.
“This is set against a backdrop of rising food and energy prices that disproportionately impact families with the lowest incomes.
Many people are going to be significantly worse off with a cost of living crisis that is squeezing household budgets to breaking point.
“Rising gas prices are fuelling deep concern that families will be unable to pay soaring energy costs, on top of the increasing cost of food shopping, tax rises, cuts in
Universal Credit, as well as water bill and rail fare increases.”
Citizens Advice Scotland have stated that people are already struggling, with one in three finding bills unaffordable and half a million Scots cutting back on food to deal with bills.
Underlying factors affect 640,000 people who cite low incomes as a reason for unaffordable bills, while over 380,000 people struggle with hard to heat homes.
The Councillor says expansion of free school meals for school children of all ages is a fast and easy way to ensure children who need it are helped fast.
The STUC Women’s Committee has also called on the Scottish Government to expand the scheme to all
The petition remains open until March 8 and will be considers by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee.
Go to the link to sign and share https://petitions.parliament.scot/petitions/PE1926
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