More than 5000 young Falkirk Bairns will be entitled to a free meal every day they attend school after the Scottish Government proposed new legislation this week.
Every pupil in primaries one, two and three across Scotland will be eligible for a no-cost lunch as part of a £114 million package unveiled by First Minister Alex Salmond.
He claimed the free meals scheme – first promised in the SNP’s 2007 election manifesto – will save families £330 a year per child when it begins in August next year.
It is hoped the initiative will improve pupils’ health and increase educational attainment.
Access to free childcare provision for those aged two and under will also be increased, if passed by Holyood.
The announcement was welcomed by Labour Councillor Alan Nimmo, Falkirk Council’s education convener, who said it would complement the local authority’s existing programme of breakfast clubs in primary schools.
“This is a worthwhile project that will certainly benefit a lot of people, especially families facing difficult economic times.
“Funding is coming from the Scottish Government so the council should not face any significant extra costs.
“However, I would expect an uptake in the number of pupils taking school meals, which could mean an increase in capacity in school dining rooms or hiring extra staff.”
Falkirk Council expects the total primary one - three roll in August 2014 to be around 5600.
Based on current primary school uptake and free meal entitlement levels, this would mean approximately 3000 of these pupils would take a school meal.
Of those 3000, one third would already be entitled to free school meals under existing guidelines. The new pledge could potentially mean that Falkirk Council will have to provide a further 2600 meals for pupils.
Public health minister and Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said: “This significant announcement from the SNP Government underlines our commitment to investing in Scotland’s future and will benefit children in the Falkirk area.”