The Welsh Government has announced that free school meals will continue to be provided to children from lower income families in Wales during the school holidays, up until the end of next year’s February half term.
The extension of the provision will support lower-income families through the cost-of-living crisis, as energy and other costs are expected to rise over the winter.
£11m will be provided to fund the support, in an agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
In April 2020, Wales became the first UK nation to guarantee free school meals for eligible families during the school holidays, with meals being provided during the school holidays since then. Individual local authorities decide how to administer the free meal provision, either by creating lunches or by providing vouchers or direct payments to families.
Free school meals are being provided to whole classes of primary school children in Wales from this term, as part of the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru’s agreement to provide free school meals to all primary school children in Wales by 2024.
Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said:
"We know how difficult school holidays can often be for families, especially during the cost-of-living crisis. As a government, we are using every lever available to us to support families that need it most.
“During the pandemic, Wales led the way in the UK in providing free school meals during school holiday periods, supported by an investment of over £100 million so far.
“Providing meals during the school holidays can make a world of difference to families who need extra support, especially as winter approaches. I’m pleased we can extend this support, as we do all we can to lighten the load for families through the cost-of-living crisis.”
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.
“The Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru is delivering much needed support for families to ensure children and young people get the best start in life.”