CHILDREN in primary 4 classes in South Ayrshire’s most deprived areas are set to get free school meals.

Schools lined up for the free lunches include Dalmilling, Braehead and Newton Primaries in Ayr as well as GirvanPrimary, it is understood, with £60,000 to be invested into the scheme this year.

Currently all children in P1, P2 and P3 get free schools meals under the Scottish Government but that stops at primary 4.

The free P4 meals were approved as part of the budget meeting at full South Ayrshire Council - with every councillor backing the move.

Labour Councillor Ian Cavana said: “It is a sad reflection in the fifth richest country in the world that we have to do this.”

He warned we could “lose a generation” if action isn’t taken.

He added: “It has to be done. It is getting worse in education every day.”

The council’s budget paper said provision of free school meals is being extended to “Primary 4 children in the most deprived areas.”

The paper said it would ease the burden on families and ensure children are “nourished and ready to learn.”

Ayr North Councillor Cavana added: “I am over the moon that everybody is agreeing that it is a necessity in this day and age.”

He said he would like to see children in every year getting free food.

He pointed out how it follows on from work, which has taken place to introduce breakfast clubs at schools.

Around 30 schools are operating breakfast clubs in South Ayrshire with 21 being run by the council.

Latest figures show about 800 children are attending the morning clubs in the area.

All of the council run clubs provide a free breakfast or a minimal charge of about 50p to £1.

Secondary schools including Ayr Academy, Belmont Academy, Queen Margaret Academy and Girvan Academy also operate them at no charge.

Glasgow City Council approved provision of free meals for all primary 4s last year.