£70 million of funding announced for next stage of free school meals rollout
Wales’ Minister for Education has announced £70 million in funding to support the next stage in the expansion of free school meals to all primary schools in Wales.
The scheme is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru and will see all primary school children and more than 6,000 nursery-age pupils attending a maintained school be eligible for free school meals by 2024.
To date nearly five million additional free meals have been served across Wales since September 2022.
The next phase of the expansion will get underway in September with the offer of free meals growing to include the majority of learners in years three and four.
The programme will then expand further in April 2024, reaching years five and six.
Where local authorities are able to reach these year groups ahead of these timeframes they have been funded to do so.
In total £260m has been committed to implement the programme over three years.
This included £60m of capital funding for local authorities invested over the last two years to support improvements to school kitchen facilities, including purchasing equipment and updating digital systems.
Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: “We are working at pace to ensure that every primary school child benefits from a nutritional school meal and that no child goes hungry.
“We know how difficult it is currently for families during the cost-of-living crisis. Universal free school meals provide significant financial help to families, while providing a nutritional meal to help children concentrate on learning.”
Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member, Siân Gwenllian, said: “We have delivered millions of free school meals since the start of the rollout of this life changing programme and one that is needed now more than ever. “
“We are making sure no child goes hungry, while also providing help for families during this cost-of-living crisis. I want to thank our local authorities and schools helping us achieve this.”
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