Skip to main content

To: Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland

Universal Free School Meals for all in Scotland

The STUC Women's Committee is calling for the expansion of Universal Free School Meals in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has said that education and tackling the poverty-related attainment gap are their top priorities: we ask the Scottish Government to take stronger action in support of these priorities by introducing Universal Free School Meals for all.

Our children and young people’s life chances cannot be put on hold - immediate policy action is required now

Why is this important?

Poverty and inequality were already at an unacceptably high level in Scotland well before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, and we have grave concerns that such socio-economic disadvantage has only intensified, especially for children and women.

The Scottish Government’s commitment to significantly reduce Child Poverty by 2030, with a view to ultimately eradicating it, and the creation of the new Scottish Child Payment Benefit is welcomed by the STUC Women’s Committee. Similarly, we welcome the Deputy First Minister’s pledge to expand free school meals provision to all Primary school pupils if the SNP retain power at the 2021 Scottish Parliament Elections.

However, we strongly believe that further urgent action to mitigate child poverty is required immediately. The Scottish Government have the power and resources to go further in introducing progressive policies that can more strongly mitigate poverty and inequality and make life-changing differences to children and families now. Firm and decisive action on child poverty in Scotland cannot be further delayed.

That is why the STUC Women’s Committee is calling on the Scottish Government to expand Universal Free School Meals to all children and young people, including those of Secondary school and Nursery age, with immediate effect. Moreover, we are calling on the Scottish Government to combat holiday hunger by ensuring that there are programmes and provisions in place in all of Scotland’s local authorities so that all children and young people have access to sufficient food during the school holidays.

Our most vulnerable children, young people's right and access to a nutritious meal should not be determined by chance of the local authority they live in or based on the goodwill of community volunteers.

We know that the roots of the poverty-related attainment gap stretch well beyond the school gates, but the significant role our educational institutions play in tackling poverty, challenging inequality, and helping to build a healthier, more inclusive society cannot be underestimated.

We strongly believe that the introduction of Universal Free School Meals will not only help to combat hunger and poverty but will shatter the stigma and shame associated with the provision of meals on a means tested basis and will fuel young people’s ability to learn in the classroom. Neither empty tummies nor low self-esteem make for full days of learning in school. Furthermore, this progressive policy sends a clear and positive message to the rest of the devolved nations and beyond that we are serious about ending poverty in Scotland, and that we are genuinely committed to educational equity and to the wellbeing of our young people.

Sign the petition today and email the First Minister showing your support.


2021-03-31 17:01:59 +0100

Want to get involved? Here are some tips for growing the campaign:

2021-03-12 18:30:04 +0000

We want to hear from YOU about #FreeSchoolMeals and your personal experience with receiving free school meals or working with children who have them.
Complete the survey below:

2021-03-12 10:00:54 +0000

Thanks for the continuing support, if you missed the online rally you can watch it here:

2021-03-11 16:47:41 +0000

Our Free School Meals Rally is TONIGHT at 6pm!

Speakers include:
1. Brenda Carson, STUC Women’s Committee Chair.
2. Audrey Kellacher, Head Teacher, Lochardil Primary School.
3. Stephanie Smith, School Canteen Worker and GMB Rep.
4. Ellie Craig, School Pupil and Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament & Kayla Gardner, Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.
5. Gary Kernahan, Executive leadership team and Director of Fundraising at Children 1st Scotland.
6. Unison Scotland Representative
7. Andrea Bradley, EIS Assistant Secretary and STUC Women’s Committee co-vice chair
8. Eireann McAuley, Equality Policy Officer at the STUC

You can join here:

2021-03-08 16:59:09 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2021-03-08 11:40:59 +0000

500 signatures reached

2021-03-05 15:40:21 +0000


Thursday 11th March is international school meals day. Last week the STUC Women’s Committee launched its campaign for Expanding Universal Free School Meals for all children and young people of primary school, secondary school and nursery age.

Expanding Universal Free School Meals will not only help combat hunger and poverty but will erase the stigma and shame associated with the provision of meals on a means tested basis.

Join us at 6pm on Thursday, 11 March 2021 to hear from campaigners, those with lived experienced and unions representing workers across the school community on why the campaign is so vital and what you can do to support it!

Register below:

2021-03-05 12:25:21 +0000

We heard from Claire Peden from Unite the Union on how school meals affected her: "For me, free school meals was embarrassing. I remember how obvious it was that I was one of the poor kids, queuing up with my paper 'ticket', how my friends would get frustrated waiting for me in the ticket line. I was grateful getting my meal though and I never said a word about the shame because I knew my sister and I getting free school meals was a massive relief for my mum.

No child should feel stigmatised or ashamed for accessing free school meals. Free school meals for all would eradicate these issues and rightfully ensure every child can learn with a full stomach."

Sign the petition today so that no child has to feel shame.

2021-03-02 17:30:40 +0000

100 signatures reached

2021-03-02 15:43:14 +0000

50 signatures reached

2021-03-02 15:15:40 +0000

25 signatures reached

2021-03-02 15:03:17 +0000

10 signatures reached