PLAID Cymru Shadow Education Minister and Senedd Election candidate for Arfon, Siân Gwenllian, has today set out how a Plaid Cymru government would work towards providing free school meals for children in Wales, helping to close the attainment gap and tackle child poverty.
Figures from the Child Poverty Action Group show that around 70,000 children in Wales living below the UK poverty line are currently not eligible for free school meals.
Siân Gwenllian said that the policy would focus on supporting Welsh farmers and businesses through boosting local procurement, and that the rollout should begin by extending free school meals eligibility to primary children from households in receipt of Universal Credit. Every child in primary school would receive free school meals before the end of a Plaid Cymru first term in government.
Siân Gwenllian said: “The attainment gap poses a real challenge in Wales. A Plaid Cymru government would start the important work of closing this gap expanding free school meals provision, starting with extending eligibility to all primary children from households in receipt of Universal Credit.
“By the end of the first term of a Plaid government, we would extend the eligibility even more by offering free school meals to all primary pupils, going further than any Labour government ever has.
“With almost one in three children in Wales living in poverty and the last Labour Government having scrapped their target of eradicating child poverty by 2020, a Plaid Cymru government would focus on addressing this failure.
“Wales can learn from other small nations such as Finland and Sweden who place an emphasis on Free School Meals as an investment in effective learning and children’s early development.
“Plaid Cymru’s free school meals plan would also benefit wider society, placing a focus on supporting Welsh farmers and businesses through boosting local procurement, and promoting the benefits of nutritious, home-grown produce in terms of health, the economy and the environment.”