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State of Wales: Free School Meals and Coronavirus

May 1st 2020

With schools across Wales shut, thousands of children across the nation have lost access to Free School Meals. The Welsh Government and Welsh local authorities have sought to put alternative arrangements in place to help families over the next few months.

APM8AB School Dinner Time in the Main Hall Albany Road Primary School Roath Cardiff South Wales

This briefing aims to help individuals and organisations across Wales better understand the scale of the challenge facing many families and some of the options that are being pursued to provide solutions. It sets out why the Bevan Foundation believes that providing cash in lieu of Free School Meals is the most effective answer to this problem.

Key findings:

  • The closure of schools in Wales due to the outbreak of coronavirus saw over 60,000 children lose access to Free School Meals overnight.
  • All bar 5 local authorities in Wales are either already or are intending to provide families with the option of receiving cash in lieu of Free School Meals whilst schools remain closed due to coronavirus.
  • Providing cash in lieu of Free School Meals is the most effective way of assisting families whilst schools are shut, and social distancing measures remain in place.


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