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Find out about the rollout of Universal Primary Free School Meals from September 2022 onwards.

First published:
22 July 2022
Last updated:

Overview

All primary school children in Wales will get free school meals by 2024. This commitment is in response to the rising cost-of-living pressures on families and our shared ambitions of tackling child poverty and ensuring no child goes hungry in school. The Welsh Government is committed to implementing the scheme as quickly as possible.

There are also wider benefits of free school meals, including promoting healthy eating across the school, increasing the variety of food learners can eat, improving social skills at mealtimes, as well as improving behaviour and attainment.

The policy is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will see free school meals extended to all primary school pupils over the next three years.

Rollout

The majority of local authorities will be able to begin delivering free school meals to Reception from the start of the autumn term, September 2022 and extend the offer to years 1 and 2 no later than the start of the summer term, April 2023. The proposed timetable is:

  • September 2022 - learners offered universal free school meals in reception
  • April 2023 - learners offered free school meals in Reception, year 1 and year 2
  • schools that are able to deliver free school meals to learners in years 1 and 2 (in addition to Reception) can do so from September

Information provided by your local authority will set out the pace at which Universal Primary Free School Meals will be rolled out in your child’s school.

Phased implementation

All school catering facilities are different. Some primary schools will need time to prepare and arrange the advance work needed to build catering capacity. Work is being carried out in many primary schools so that kitchens are able to cater for a significantly greater number of children to receive school meals.

Registering

You will need to register your child for free school meals and this information will be provided by your child’s school or Local Authority over the coming months.

For your child’s school to take a headcount of the increased total number of children requiring school meals you may be asked to register. Rest assured that other associated benefits will not be affected.

Older children currently in receipt of or eligible to apply for a free school meal will be unaffected by the implementation of the universal scheme.