Trio of Welsh Councils to fund free school meals over holidays, Flintshire confirms it won’t
As the Welsh Government stops its free school meal provision for children during holiday periods, three councils – Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, and Powys – are rallying to find the necessary funding to continue the support over the summer.
Flintshire Council, however, has confirmed it will stop making weekly free school meal payments during these periods.
The Welsh Government’s free school meal scheme was introduced during the Covid pandemic. It aimed to fight “holiday hunger” and support families struggling during the cost of living crisis by offering parents and carers vouchers, food deliveries, or direct payments.
The scheme ran for the last time during the May half term.
Despite stopping the holiday meal scheme, the Welsh Government plans to fund the School Holiday Enrichment Programme (SHEP) with £4.85 million from the 2023 budget.
Also known as the “Food and Fun” scheme, this programme offers food and nutrition education, physical activities, and healthy meals during the school summer holidays.
Coordinated by the Welsh Local Government Authority, the scheme is available across all 22 local authority areas. Schools must ensure at least 16% of pupils receiving free school meals are participating.
Several Flintshire schools are participating, and their pupils will receive a nutritious lunch.
These schools include Argoed, Connahs Quay High, Flint High, Maes Hyfryd, Queensferry Primary, St Davids, Ysgol Bryn Garth, Ysgol Bryn Gwalia, Ysgol Glan Aber, Ysgol Gronant, Ysgol Maesglas, Ysgol Pencoch and Ysgol Treffynnon.
Wales-based think tank, the Bevan Foundation, has urged the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, to provide more support to families this summer.
At their July board meeting, trustees pressed for ongoing support for low-income families, highlighting the importance of the free school meals scheme in preventing child hunger.
“Now is not the time to withdraw this lifeline,” the trustees stated, advocating for funding to cover food and heating costs in the form of either continued school meals payments or a child payment later in the year.
They encouraged the government to allocate less than 0.1% of its total expenditure to support families under severe financial pressure.
In response to inquiries about the discontinuation of free school meals over the holidays, Flintshire County Council stated, “Due to the decision made by the Welsh Government, FCC will stop making the weekly free school meal (eFSM) payments over the holidays.”
They added that they would collaborate with Aura Wales to fund packed lunches for children attending the ‘Fit, Fed, and Read’ activities during the summer holidays.
Questions about the end of the eFSM provision should be directed to the Welsh Government, the council spokesperson concluded.
‘Fit, Fed, and Read’ activities will run for five weeks from July 24 until August 25, from Monday to Friday at different locations across Flintshire.
These locations can be found here: https://aura.wales/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Fit-Fed-and-Read-Summer-2023-ENG.pdf Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com