A Plaid Cymru MS has welcomed the beginning of a free schools meals policy for all primary school children.
Peredur Owen Griffiths, who represents the South Wales East region, said the Wales-wide policy will make a big difference at a time when families are struggling more than they have for generations.
The free school meals will start with reception classes. Nursery-age pupils attending a maintained school for at least two full sessions, on any one day per week, will also be eligible for a free school meal with £35m of new capital funding supporting the roll-out of the scheme.
The funding will be provided to local authorities to invest in improvements to school catering facilities, including purchasing equipment, upgrading existing kitchen facilities and updating digital systems.
The funding is in addition to £25m of capital funding provided to local authorities in 2021-22. £200m of revenue funding has also been committed for the day-to-day provision over the next three years.
Free School Meals was a key election promise by Plaid Cymru during the last Senedd election. The Co-Operation Agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government commits to expanding free school meals to all primary school pupils in Wales by 2024.
Peredur said: “This policy is a timely one because families are struggling more than they have in recent memory. The cost of living crisis is plunging more and more families into ‘the red.’
“The Tories in Westminster have dithered over the summer as the crisis has mounted. It is great to see positive action coming out of Wales. This will make such a big difference to families as one mother in Newport told my street surgery team when it was first announced.”
Peredur added: “This has been a long-running campaign by Plaid Cymru. We never gave up trying to implement this despite all other political parties in Wales opposing it.
“We are glad that Labour finally saw the merits of universal free school meals and agreed to include it in the co-operation agreement we signed with them.”
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