UNISON has had a longstanding interest in the extremely important role of school meals and nutrition in schools, as part of our wider calls for tackling inequalities across society, including in education and health.
Children learn better when they have been eating well and healthily. We call again for free school meals throughout primary and secondary schooling. In 2002 we argued in our response to a consultation document by the Expert Panel on School Meals:
“Unison Scotland supported the recent School Meals (Scotland) Bill. We strongly believed that the Bill tackled poverty and social exclusion, provided a welfare service free at the point of use, addressed poor nutrition standards in Scotland and related health problems, and a whole range of socio-economic and behavioural issues.”
We have consistently repeated this call over many years in our Food for Good campaigning for fresh, healthy and sustainable food across public service catering, including in schools, nurseries, hospitals, care homes and prisons. In recent years, we have also been part of the Scottish Food Coalition, campaigning for a just transition to a fair, healthy and sustainable food system. We urge the Scottish Government to bring forward their promised consultation on a Good Food Nation Bill to reassure people that they have not abandoned plans for the Bill.
Our Food for Good Charter says:
“Universal free school meals are a major contributor to access to good nutrition, improving health and tackling childhood obesity. As a minimum, these should be provided in all primary schools. The aim for all public service catering should be for a minimum of at least one daily option of an organic/ethically produced main meal, ideally locally sourced. Vending machines on school/hospital premises should use healthy alternatives, not junk/fast food.”
Our recommendations in the Charter also include providing fresh, locally prepared, sustainably sourced food, less meat-intensive diets, lessons in preparing healthy meals and on the global food system’s high contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Read the full submission.