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Neath Port Talbot to roll out free school meals earlier than planned

Neath Port Talbot Council has announced that it is rolling out free school meals to nearly 3000 primary pupils in years 1 and 2 ahead of schedule.

All children in primary years 1 and 2 will now receive Universal Free School Meals from Monday 7th November (after October half-term).

The roll-out is a part of the Welsh Government’s commitment for every primary school pupil to receive a free school meal by 2024.

The first phase was successfully rolled out to all reception pupils across Neath Port Talbot primary schools in September. As well as removing the burden from parents of having to pay for school meals, it also ensures pupils have a nutritious meal.

Pupils will automatically receive free school meals directly through their school at the start of term. Parents do not have to apply.

However, parents that receive benefits that entitle their child to a free school meal are still being encouraged to register for a free school meal if they haven’t already done so as they may be entitled to a PDG Access Grant (school uniform grant).

Other primary school year groups will follow in a phased approach to ensure the school’s catering team are able to manage the additional demand placed upon it. Further information on when other year groups will receive free school meals will be announced in the coming months.

Councillor Nia Jenkins, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Training, said: “After seeing the success of the first phase roll-out of free school meals, I am delighted that we are able to bring forward our roll-out to years 1 and 2, especially during the current cost of living crisis.

“I am sure this announcement will be welcomed by many parents who are struggling with the rising costs of household bills and fuel prices.

“We will be implementing the roll-out to other year groups as quickly as possible. We would ask for your patience as we build capacity to ensure a successful phased implementation, and work towards a full school rollout over the next three years.”

Parents who are struggling with the cost of living can visit the council’s ‘Help with the cost of living’ www.npt.gov.uk/costoflivinghelp webpage to find out more about what financial related support is available and how to access it.