An Ayrshire MSP is calling for an increase in the threshold for children to be entitled free school meals.

Currently, all children in primaries one to five, at schools run by their local council or funded by the Scottish Government, can get free school lunches during term-time. 

South Scotland MSP Carol Mochan says raising the threshold so that more children qualify is a "critical and necessary step".

The Scottish Labour representative said in a letter to Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth: "I have met with several organisations and individuals who believe that extending the income threshold for free school meals is pivotal if we want to take more significant steps towards ending child hunger, and to do so with the purpose and the urgency this serious challenge merits.

"Aberlour’s Children’s Charity and many others have commended recent steps to cancel school meal debt, and we all look forward to the day universal free school meals are delivered to P6 and P7.

"Increasing thresholds to increase access to free school meals for those who are in school years not currently covered by universal provision would take significant pressure off of parents who may have more than one child in school, and indeed those who are now struggling to afford school meals due to the serious challenges faced as a result of the cost-of-living pressures."

Ayr Advertiser: Carol Mochan MSP for South ScotlandCarol Mochan MSP for South Scotland (Image: NQ Archive)

The Scottish Government has recently announced £1.5 million of funding to support councils to wipe out school debt for families, which will aim to benefit families in Ayrshire.

The funding looks to make sure that no child in Scotland is penalised for being unable to pay for school meals during the cost of living crisis.

SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley, Elena Whitham has backed the move.

Ayr Advertiser: SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley, Elena Whitham.SNP MSP for Carrick, Cumnock, and Doon Valley, Elena Whitham. (Image: NQ Archive)

She said: “While school meal debt is a matter for local authorities, this important emergency funding pot will give much-needed support to empower councils to remove the debilitating impact of debt for families across Scotland

“First Minister John Swinney has been categorically clear that his ambition in Government is to eradicate child poverty – and has wasted no time in taking immediate action to deliver this.

“From the expansion of free school meals, to increasing the Scottish Child Payment, the SNP Scottish Government is cutting the cost of the school day, supporting families and giving every child the best start in life.”