Public Health Scotland (PHS) has helped to organise a transatlantic online event being held today to share learning about how school meal provision can help combat child poverty, increase food security and promote healthy eating habits in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The collaboration with the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit (SPIRU) at Glasgow Caledonian University and the Poverty and Inequality Commission will bring together researchers, policymakers and practitioners from Scotland and the USA to exchange evidence and practice.
Claire Hislop, Organisational Lead for Diet, Physical Activity and Healthy Weight at Public Health Scotland will provide the national overview of school food policy in Scotland. Claire said:
“COVID-19 has placed a new focus on food insecurity and health inequalities in Scotland. A healthy, balanced diet from a young age is an important way to improve the health of more people. The updated school food regulations, which will come into effect in April, will build on the success we have seen to date in creating an environment where children and young people can choose to eat well and help them to learn healthy habits for life".
Kerry McKenzie, Organisational Lead for Child Poverty at PHS, said:
“Providing free school meals helps our collective action to reduce poverty in Scotland. We also know that families entitled to free school meals valued having that support continue during lockdown. This is a timely opportunity to exchange ideas to maximise the impact of school meals in Scotland, by reducing the financial burden on families and improving children’s health and wellbeing.”
You can read more about the importance of early years work for future health.