In West Lothian, extending it to other year groups will be done on a phased basis from August 2021
- Phase one: P4 will be able to access free school meals from August 2021
- Phase two: P5 will be able to access free school meals from January 2022
- Phases three: P6 & 7 will be able to access free school meals from August 2022
The programme is being rolled out on a phased basis to allow for equipment, staffing numbers, dining capacity and storage capacities to be changed to meet the increase in lunches being provided.
In addition, it was already planned as part of the Early learning expansion that meals for nursery children would be provided by August 2021. When all phases have been put in place, the council will deliver over 2.5 million meals in primary schools and nurseries each year. Over 12,800 meals will be produced daily from 41 locations in West Lothian.
The Scottish Government funding is expected to be around £3.2million each year with a further one off cost of £5.3 million required for facilities and resources that will enable the programme to be undertaken.
David Dodds, Executive councillor for Education said: "The numbers of meals provided will increase significantly and we are preparing for that by assessing capacity and resources available to us.
"Phases one and ELC will be delivered from this August with the installation of new equipment. In order to deliver phases two and three there will be a significant amount of funding required and the council is seeking additional funding from the Scottish Government."