Council approves extension of free school meals in Secondary schools

Aberdeen City Council’s Education Operational Delivery Committee today (Thursday 25 November) approved a proposal that will increase the number of pupils eligible for free meals on the city’s Secondary Schools.

The committee agrees the actions being progressed to maximise the number of eligible secondary school pupils taking free school meals; approved the extension of free school meal criteria to include parents and grandparents in receipt of the Child element within Guaranteed Pension Credits.

The plans look to carry on the work undertaken in increasing the historically low uptake of free meals in the city’s Secondary Schools which has already seen a 30% increase in registrations among eligible pupils in 2020/21 from 1,106 to 1,441.

Committee Convener, Councillor M Tauqeer Malik said: “I am delighted that, over the last year, we have been able to ensure that more eligible young people in our Secondary schools are accessing free food and that we have now been able to put in place actions to increase eligibility still further.

“Health and wellbeing are crucial elements in our ambitions to ensure that there are no socioeconomic disadvantages to attainment among all our children and young people and that each and every one of them has every opportunity to make the best possible start in life”.

In achieving the increased number of participants, Aberdeen City Council set up a cross-functional working group, including the Early Intervention and Community Empowerment service to identify and tackle the causes of low take up of school meals such as stigma, queuing times, the application process and parental awareness to improve communications to eligible parties, simplify processes, meal facilities in addition to traditional school canteens and now extending the eligibility criteria.