Welsh Government to continue funding free school meals during summer holidays

The Welsh Government has announced it will continue funding free school meals for eligible children during the summer holidays in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a UK-first move, Education Minister Kirsty Williams confirmed each child will receive the equivalent of £19.50 a week.

£33m will be made available for local authorities to continue providing free school meals, the Welsh Government pledged.

In March schools across the UK were closed to all pupils except vulnerable children and those of key workers in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Kirsty Williams initially announced £7m for local authorities to provide arrangements for free school meals. Credit: Welsh Government

The education minister announced at the start of April that 800 schools in Wales would open in the first week of the Easter holidays with around 3,500 children attending - approximately 1 per cent of the population.

Kirsty Williams initially announced £7m for local authorities to provide arrangements for free school meals.

She said: "We have confidence in the way local authorities have responded swiftly to this emergency and we know local approaches are working well.

“After examining whether a national voucher scheme would work for Wales, we have decided not to proceed with that approach.

“I am pleased to confirm we will continue to support local authorities, both financially and through revised guidance, to deliver local solutions while schools remain closed.

“I can confirm we will provide £33m to enable local authorities to continue free school meal provision until schools re-open or up to the end of August.”

Schools across the UK have been partially closed to halt the spread of coronavirus. Credit: PA Images

In the revised guidance issued to local authorities, the Welsh Government has outlined three options for providing free school meals, requiring the least amount of social interaction.

  • The provision of vouchers

  • The delivery of food items to the families of pupils who receive free school meals

  • A bank transfer to families eligible for free school meals

Councillor Ian Roberts (Flintshire), WLGA Spokesperson for Education said:"Local authorities have acted with urgency to ensure arrangements are in place to deliver free school meals to eligible families.

"We’re grateful to the Welsh Government for their financial package which means local authorities will be able to continue to provide this support through the school summer holidays or until schools re-open.”

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