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Generous Denbighshire rolls out Free School Meals 4 months early to combat Cost of Living Crisis

Free School Meals

Universal Primary Free School Meals are to be rolled out early to all Year 1 pupils in Denbighshire from January 2023.

In December 2021 Welsh Government (WG) announced plans to offer free meals to all primary school pupils. The phased delivery approach would be implemented from 1st September 2022 to September 2024.

Following the initial receipt of £859,000 from Welsh Government to support the roll out of Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) across Denbighshire, works were undertaken throughout the summer, and completed in August 2022, at 13 sites across the county to increase the capacity of the Authority’s primary school kitchens.

Soup’s on!

Due to the successful completion of these works Denbighshire County Council rolled out Universal Primary Free School Meals to all Reception pupils from September 2022.

A second allocation of £1.2million of funding has now been received from Welsh Government and will be used to undertake further refurbishment works on both dining and kitchen facilities throughout 2023 in order to ensure that all primary pupils have access to Universal Primary Free School Meals by September 2024.

Despite rollout to Years 1 & 2 not being scheduled until Easter 2023, the Authority has now announced it is ready to expand the offer to Year 1 pupils as of January 2023.

From the start of the Spring term Reception and Year 1 pupils in Denbighshire schools will be asked on a daily basis whether or not they would like to access a school meal. They will be able to opt in or out without having to pre book and the meal will be provided free of charge.

Further information will be available on the Denbighshire website www.denbighshire.gov.uk/education. If pupils are already in receipt of free school meals and/or any other associated benefits, these will not be affected.

A further rollout of Universal Primary Free School Meals up to year 2 is still anticipated for Easter 2023.

Gill German, Lead member for Education Children and Families said, “It is fantastic news for Denbighshire pupils that the Authority will be able to rollout the Universal Primary Free School Meal offer up to Year 1 ahead of schedule. With mounting pressures around the cost of living the sooner we are able to offer this support to our communities the better.”

The next phase of refurbishment works will focus on ensuring that all Denbighshire Primary schools are able to deliver up to Year 2 by Easter 2023 followed by year 3 & 4 from September 2023.

Free School Meals – Final Thought

Child poverty is a scourge on society, it can ruin young lives, restricts economic growth and exacerbates inequality. The task of eliminating child poverty is split between all layers of government, responsibility for education in particular is dispersed particularly widely.

This means that with accountability muddy and budgets restricted it takes significant political intervention to take steps to end child poverty, Denbighshire and the Welsh Government more widely should be applauded for their efforts.

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