Free school meals for lower income families in Wales to continue during school holidays
Free school meals will continue to be provided to all eligible during the school holidays.
The extension of the provision will support lower-income families through the cost-of-living crisis, with energy and other costs expected to rise over the winter.
Children who receive free school meals will also be able to get free dinners during the holidays until the end of February 2023 half-term.
£11m will be provided to fund the scheme as part of an agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
Speaking in the Senedd yesterday, Education Jeremy Miles said: “We should not forget that Wales has led the way in the UK throughout the pandemic in our delivery of food provision to those eligible for free school meals during school holiday periods.
“This has been supported by an investment of over £100 million to date. Our school holiday free school meal provision was due to finish at the end of the summer holidays this year.
“But working with our co-operation agreement partners, Plaid Cymru, in light of the increasing cost of living and the pressure that this is already putting on family budgets, I am pleased to confirm that, together, we’ve now been able to allocate funding to extend holiday food provision for pupils traditionally eligible for a free school meal until the end of the February half term next year.
“This means a further investment of £11 million to support some of our most disadvantaged learners.”
Plaid Cymru’s Designated Member, Sian Gwenllian, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is deepening, and families are very worried about the weeks and months ahead.”
“It’s vital that we do as much as we can to support families at this time, especially those most severely affected by rising costs.”
“As well as our joint commitment to ensure all primary children receive a school meal for free, the extended support will make a real difference to families with lower incomes during the school holidays.”
Children aged between four and five who are starting school will be offered the meals from this month onwards.
It is part of a phased expansion of school meals to all primary school children in Wales by 2024, around 272,000 children.
However the Welsh Conservatives have criticised the Welsh Government’s blanket free school meals policy.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: “Welsh Conservatives don’t think any child should go hungry, which is why we believe in targeting our limited resources and free school meals towards those who need help.
“However, Labour and Plaid’s universal plan is wrong because it includes millionaire families who can afford to feed their children, spending taxpayer money where it isn’t needed and absolves able parents of responsibilities when they can fulfil them.
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