Children in Carmarthenshire’s reception classes will be entitled to free school meals from September it was announced today.

This is the start of a roll-out of free meals for all primary school children within two years and it’s estimated that over 16,000 children in Carmarthenshire will benefit.

At present, about half the children living below the UK poverty line are not entitled to free school meals mainly because their parents are in low-paid jobs which take them over the eligibility threshold, according to The Child Poverty Action Group.

South Wales Guardian:


“As we face an unprecedented cost of living crisis, this provision could not have come at a better time,” said Cllr Glynog Davies, the Cabinet Member for Education on Carmarthenshire County Council.

“Providing free school meals will help hard-up families cope with the mounting financial pressures they now face, and will give them one less thing to worry about.

"It will also ensure that no child in school will go hungry - and better nourishment leads to better achievement by the pupils."

Polls suggest that as younger children are more likely to live in relative poverty, the universal free meals roll-out will commence with the reception classes.

These will begin in September and by next April most children in their first three years in primary school will be receiving free meals.

“It’s anticipated that this will result in greater demand for school meals by children who are currently taking packed lunches to school at present," added Cllr Davies. "And this could be a challenging time for school kitchens and their staff."

As a result, the county’s Education Department is gearing up to provide financial support.

Nationally, £225m has been committed to secure its delivery over the next three years with £25m of that fund going towards improving school kitchen facilities.

Meanwhile the local authority is eager to support local food producers such as farmers and other local businesses.

“Buying locally cuts the carbon footprint and contributes towards our aim of being Net Zero Carbon by 2030,” added Cllr Davies.