Whole country should benefit from Club 365

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP sits down for a chat during a visit  to a Club 365 in Coatbridge before announcing he wanted to see the programme rolled out across Scotland
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP sits down for a chat during a visit to a Club 365 in Coatbridge before announcing he wanted to see the programme rolled out across Scotland

Labour will roll out North Lanarkshire Council’s Club 365 scheme across Scotland if it wins back power in the Scottish Parliament.

The Club 365 programme offers free meals and activities for primary-age pupils in receipt of free school meals with the aim of tackling weekend and holiday hunger.

It began with an expansion into Bellshill and Wishaw this summer following a successful trial in Coatbridge and has so far served over 5000 meals – it will be rolled out across North Lanarkshire within this financial year.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who is also a Central Scotland list MSP, announced that a future Labour-controlled Scottish Government would ensure the scheme is rolled out across Scotland, by ensuring councils have the funding they need to deliver the scheme.

Mr Leonard said: “No child in Scotland should be going hungry over the school holidays.

“The Club 365 scheme in North Lanarkshire is an innovative example of Labour councils tackling child poverty and working to close the attainment gap.

“The next Scottish Labour Government will roll this programme out across the country and prioritise ending the scandal of children in Scotland going without a decent meal.

“We’ll deliver that promise by making the richest pay their fair share so councils have the funding we need, and extending free school meals to all primary school pupils.”

Commenting on the announcement, the council’s convener of Education, Youth and Communities Frank McNally said: “I am delighted the next Scottish Labour Government will follow our lead and establish a programme like Club 365 in every council in Scotland.

“Our roll out has shown this is a much needed step to end the scandal of children going without a decent meal and it is imperative that in spite of SNP and Conservative austerity we continue to build a society for the many, not the few.”