What are the main points?
- Universal public free school meals (UPFSM) means all primary-age children receive school meals.
- Research shows UPFSM has various socioeconomic benefits, including improved child development, improved nutrition, reduced childhood and adult obesity, and improved ability to learn.
- Benefits also stretch to the local population with reductions in inequality and financial pressure on households.
- Phased roll-out started in Wales September 2022 and has provided around 5 million additional free school meals to date. The next phase will expand to include the majority of learners in years three and four from September 2023.
EXPERT THOUGHT: Dr Mariana Dyakova
Consultant in public health and International Health Lead
‘Providing free meals in schools requires significant funding and appropriate infrastructure, equipment and workforce to deliver, however, evidence and experience from across the world shows that they are an important investment in our future generations, having direct and indirect positive impacts.
‘Free school meals can also help protect children and their health during times of crisis.’
Image credit | Freepix