A Key pledge in Plaid Cymru’s Senedd election has resulted in thousands more primary school pupils benefiting from free school meals.
An additional 1.5 million free school meals have been served in primary schools across Wales, thanks to the “tireless campaigning” of Plaid Cymru and anti-poverty groups.
This figure represents the additional meals served to primary school pupils since the rollout of Universal Primary Free School Meals began in September – a policy secured by Plaid Cymru as part of the Co-operation Agreement with the Welsh Government.
Free school meals was a key pledge for Plaid Cymru in the 2021 Senedd election manifesto.
All primary school children and more than 6,000 nursery-age pupils attending a maintained school will be eligible for free school meals by 2024. The Free Primary Universal School Meals now allows an extra 45,000 primary school children to have the option to a free school meal. Its estimated nearly 66,000 extra pupils will be fed in the first year of roll-out.
Rollout started at the beginning of the autumn term, with reception children receiving the first free meals. Year one and two pupils are now also starting to benefit from the scheme.
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for children and young people, Heledd Fychan MS said,
“Seeing the rollout of free school meals across primary schools in Wales was a proud moment for everyone who has campaigned tirelessly for this over the years.
“Universal free meals for primary school pupils has long been a priority for Plaid Cymru, and is a significant step forward in our efforts to address the cost of living crisis and child poverty in Wales.
“Hungry children cannot learn, and providing all primary school children a free, nutritious meal levels the playing field and will help give our children the best start in life.”
Designated Member Siân Gwenllian MS said:
“Delivering 1.5 million additional free school meals in just over three months is a huge achievement and one that is needed now more than ever.
“The roll-out of universal free school meals in all primary schools in Wales shows how co-operative working through the agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government is making a real difference to people’s lives. We are making sure no child goes hungry, while also providing help for families during this cost-of-living crisis.
“The number of meals delivered will also increase as we work together to make sure all children attending primary schools will be eligible for free school meals by 2024. I want to thank our local authorities and schools helping us achieve this.”