Food and clothing

When money is tight, what we have available to pay for food and clothing can be stretched. This section will take you through available sources to help with food bills and clothing costs from emergency support to local council help with school costs.

Emergency Food

Get an Emergency Food Package

If you are struggling to buy food, a local food bank can help. Some food banks can help with more than just food, including providing energy vouchers, free sanitary products, or finding suitable clothing for starting a new job.

To get an emergency food package, you might need a food voucher which can be issued by your GP, local social work team, Jobcentre Plus or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.  The food bank will tell you where you can get a voucher in your area.

If you live in a rural area and can't afford to get to a food bank, you might be able to get an emergency delivery of food. Check with your local food bank to see if they offer this service.

Foodbanks and other help in your area
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Please Note

You might be able to get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund if you are experiencing a crisis of some kind. Find out more from our Grant section. 

Our Grant Section also contains information on Scotland’s Best Start Foods. In Scotland, if you are pregnant or have children aged up to three years old, you can receive a payment card to buy fresh food such as fruit, vegetables and eggs.

Top Tips for managing food costs

Managing food costs can be difficult as it is often hard to work out how much you actually spend feeding your household. Most families will spend what they have left after paying for bills rather than budgeting their food costs.

If you're on a low income or if you want help to plan your meals, reduce food wastage and cut down food bills, then there are several tips you can follow:

  • Cooking on a bootstrap - Food Poverty campaigner Jack Monroe's website has a host of low cost recipes to help keep food costs down
  • NHS's Change4Life has several healthy cost-saving recipes to help you eat well whilst saving money 
  • Parent Club has handy guides on food and eating to help reduce your food bill and get your kids eating healthy.

NHS Change4Life Recipes
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Parent Club's guides to food and eating
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Cooking on a bootstrap
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Support with school meals and clothing

Your local council can provide you with grants to help with school meals and clothing. 

Check your free school meals entitlement

Every child at local council schools can get free school lunches during term-time in primary 1 to 5. This applies to all children in these years - your family's financial circumstances do not matter. Your child might be entitled to free school meals after primary 5 if you are getting certain benefits or are experiencing financial hardship.

Children who are over two and are receiving free early learning and childcare are also eligible for free school meals.

Contact your child's school or local council if your child is not getting free lunches at this age.

Some children in funded childcare before starting school (early learning and childcare) can also get free meals.

Free school meals
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Check if you are eligible for School clothing grant

You might be able to get a school clothing grant to help with the costs of school uniform if you're on a low income. Everybody who gets a school clothing grant will get at least:

  • £120 per child of primary school age
  • £150 per child of secondary school age

Some local councils offer you more money and the grant is normally cash paid into your bank account. 

Your local council might give you vouchers. Some shops might not accept the vouchers. If you are unable to use the vouchers, you should contact your local council.

Your award might not cover all costs and in some local council areas, other sources of help are available such as school clothing banks. Speak to your child’s school or your local council for more information.

    School clothing grant
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    Please Note

    The link above takes you to a useful information page which will allow you to search for your local council's website for details on how to apply for free school meals and clothing grants. 

    Most councils will have an online form you can use to apply for the clothing grant

    Alternatively, you can contact your local council or your child’s school directly to find out how to apply. You might be able to claim the school clothing grant and free school meals at the same time.

    If you would like more information on local council support with school costs, you can check our advice on school costs. Our Grants section also has information on other grants provided by local councils.