The current situation in Wales
In 2018, the Welsh Government started to revise the free school meals policy due to the recognition that the current policy was failing to meet all children in relative income poverty.
As of September 2022, universal free school meals for all primary school children are being rolled out stepwise, starting with the youngest years. By 2024 all primary school-aged children will receive free school meals.
The School Food Case Study: Wales
The World Food Programme (UK) and the Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition invited the National Centre of Population Health & Wellbeing Research to lead the production of a case study of the Wales school meals system. The Research Consortium is facilitating collaboration between academic, research and development partners to fill the global knowledge gap in school health and nutrition, and build an evidence base to guide policymakers and programmed implementers.
Part of a UK and Global approach to School Food
The Welsh case study forms part of a UK-wide study covering the devolved nation’s school meals programmes. The UK case studies will also contribute to the global library of case studies being developed for the School Meals Coalition.
The case studies from the four UK devolved nations were presented at a meeting in London on the 17th of November 2022. View the summary of the UK School Meals here.
Early years are critically important to all areas of a child’s learning and development. Access to free school meals can help reduce inequalities and ensure that children, especially those from lower income families, can receive a healthy meal per day.
The Centre will continue to work with partners from other devolved nations and globally on cross-learning and information sharing. Our researchers will be looking to evaluate the rollout of free school meals and the benefits to the health and well-being of children.
To deliver our research, the Centre will work with other organisations and networks, such as the HAPPEN Primary School Network and GENIUS School Food Network, to reach and gather information from schools across Wales.