A NATIONAL scheme to roll out free school meals to the youngest learners in primary schools in Wales has been launched today (Wednesday, 7 September) by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Sian Gwenllian MS at Ysgol Bro Preseli in Crymych.
In Pembrokeshire, the rollout will include learners in:
• and years 1 and 2 pupils in primary schools
Known as the Universal Primary Free School Meals, the policy is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.
The agreement will see free school meals extended to ALL primary school learners over the next three years.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “No child should go hungry. Families throughout Wales are under huge pressure because of the cost-of-living crisis and we are doing everything we can to support them.
“Extending free school meals to all primary schools is one of a number of measures we are taking to support families through this difficult time.
“I’m really pleased to see how our schools have embraced this and the speed at which they and our public services have worked together to begin providing free school meals.
“We know younger children are more likely to be living in relative income poverty, which is why the youngest of our learners will be the first to benefit.”
Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education and the Welsh Language, said Pembrokeshire County Council were delighted to support the policy.
“Families are facing difficult times with the increasing everyday costs of living, so free, nutritious school meals for our youngest learners are great news,” he said. “No child should come to school hungry or be hungry during the day.
“We’d like to encourage parents of children in full-time nursery, reception and years 1 and 2 in primary schools to take advantage of this fantastic scheme from Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.”
Ysgol Bro Preseli Headteacher Mrs Rhonwen Morris said: “As a school we aim to provide all learners with the same opportunity to thrive. We nurture learners from a young age; academically, socially and physically.
“We welcome such a progressive scheme ensuring that learners are provided with a nutritious balanced diet that will support all aspects of their education, progress and wellbeing.
“We look forward to seeing this scheme being extend to all primary school learners over the next three years thus ensuring equity for all in primary education.”