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Wales serves 20m additional free school meals through ‘transformative’ initiative

21st May 2024 - 07:00
Wales serves 20m additional free school meals
The First Minister Vaughan Gething has announced that over 20 million additional meals have been served since the rollout of universal free meals to all primary pupils in Wales began in September 2022.

All primary schoolchildren and more than 6,000 nursery-age pupils attending a maintained school will be eligible for free meals by September 2024. New figures now show 19 of Wales’ 22 local authorities are already reaching all eligible pupils, ahead of the September target.

Around £260 million of Welsh Government funding was committed to implement universal free school meals, which included £60 million of capital funding to support improvements to school kitchen facilities, including purchasing equipment and updating digital systems.

First Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Universal free school meals for primary-age pupils has been transformational in keeping much-needed money in families’ pockets during these tough times. Within my priorities for government, I committed to making sure we do everything we can to see young people grow up feeling happy and hopeful for the future.

“At the heart of our mission is to lift children out of poverty, especially when the cost-of-living crisis has put extraordinary pressure on families across Wales. No child should go hungry, and thanks to the hard work of our local authorities and our schools, more and more children are being provided with a free nutritional school dinner to help ensure they can concentrate on learning.”

The introduction of universal free school meals for primary school pupils is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth added: “Universal free school meals in all of our primary schools is making a real difference to the lives of thousands of children and helping families across Wales at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is having a real impact.

“We have been able to make sure no child goes hungry by working together through the Co-operation Agreement and delivering where we have common ground, as the people of Wales expect us to.”

Written by
Edward Waddell