20 million milestone of free school meals in Wales

Over 20 million additional meals have been served since the rollout of universal free meals to all primary pupils in Wales began in September 2022, the Welsh government has announced.

And by September 2024, all primary school children and more than 6,000 nursery-age pupils attending a maintained school will be eligible for free meals.

New figures now show 19 of Wales’ 22 local authorities are already reaching all eligible pupils – ahead of the September target.

£260 million of Welsh government funding was committed to implement universal free school meals, which included £60 million of capital funding to support improvements to school kitchen facilities, including purchasing equipment and updating digital systems.

First minister Vaughan Gething said: "Universal free school meals for primary-age pupils has been transformational in keeping much-needed money in families’ pockets during these tough times.

"Within my priorities for government, I committed to making sure we do everything we can to see young people grow up feeling happy and hopeful for the future.

"At the heart of our mission is to lift children out of poverty, especially when the cost-of-living crisis has put extraordinary pressure on families across Wales.

"No child should go hungry, and thanks to the hard work of our local authorities and our schools, more and more children are being provided with a free nutritional school dinner to help ensure they can concentrate on learning."

The introduction of universal free school meals for primary school pupils is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

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