Free School Meal Rollout Begins In Welsh Primary Schools
Friends laughing while having food at table during lunch break in cafeteria

Free School Meal Rollout Begins In Welsh Primary Schools

Ella Kipling September 13, 2022

This July, the Welsh government announced that all primary school children in Wales will get free school meals by 2024, in response to the cost-of-living crisis.

The government stated their commitment to implementing the scheme as soon as possible and, as the school year started this week, Reception pupils are now offered the free school meals.

The policy, part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, will see free school meals extended to all primary school pupils over the next three years.

Many local authorities are set to hit government target early

Many local authorities have begun offering free school meals to Reception children, those aged between four and five.

Newport, Ceredigion, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Pembrokeshire, Conwy, Vale of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire councils have said that pupils under the age of seven will get free school meals from this week, according to the BBC.

In Anglesey, Caerphilly and Gwynedd, year 1 classes will be eligible, but Caerphilly have planned to extend provision to year 2 pupils in November.

While the government’s target is to extend provision to all primary school pupils by 2024, councils such as Wrexham, Pembrokeshire, and Conwy are due to hit the target from September 2023, a year early.

‘All school catering facilities are different’

According to the government, the offer will be extended by the majority of local authorities to years 1 and 2 no later than the start of the summer term, in April 2023. However, schools that are able to deliver free school meals to pupils in years 1 and 2, in addition to Reception, can do so from September.

‘All school catering facilities are different. Some primary schools will need time to prepare and arrange the advance work needed to build catering capacity,’ the government said, ‘work is being carried out in many primary schools so that kitchens are able to cater for a significantly greater number of children to receive school meals.’

Ellie Harwood, from the Child Poverty Action Group, told the BBC: ‘It’s a wonderful thought thinking of the littlest children starting school this week… knowing that all of them can go down to the dinner hall, sit down and eat together with their friends.’

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Ella Kipling is an Entertainment and News Writer at GRV Media. She regularly writes a mixture of news and features for HITC and has been part of the team since 2020. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, Ella is currently studying for an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University. She has a keen interest in current affairs and can usually be found reading the news, with her nose in a book (and updating her Goodreads), talking about women’s rights, or listening to Showtunes.