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Universal Primary Free School Meals - FAQs

What are Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM)?

UPFSM is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will see school meals being available to all primary school pupils for free over the next three years regardless of household income.

When will these meals be available to pupils?

Welsh Government have given the commitment for a phased introduction of UPFSM to all primary school pupils by 2024 beginning with:

  • Reception and Year 1 pupils - September 2022
  • Years 2 and Full Time Nursery Places – November 7th 2023.

I have older child(ren) when do you expect to introduce UPFSM to years 3 and above?

The aim of Welsh Government is that all primary aged pupils will receive a UPFSM by 2024. There is a lot of work to be done to equip and resource our school kitchens to cope with the expected increase in demand. Here in Caerphilly County Borough all schools will move at the same pace and will introduce UPFSM to eligible year groups at the same time.

Will I need to fill in an application form to get UPFSM for my child(ren)?

All pupils in the appropriate year groups are qualified to receive UPFSM automatically. Parents and carers will not need to fill in an application form but will be asked by schools on a weekly basis, which days they would like their child(ren) to take up this offer.

I am on a low income and my child(ren) currently receive free school meals (eFSM) how will the introduction of UPFSM affect me?

Families on low incomes or those in receipt of certain benefits will not be affected by the introduction of UPFSM. Families in receipt of eFSM will continue to be eligible to receive other benefits through the PDG access grant, such as school uniforms. There is an application process for eFSMs and it is important that when the new UPFSM scheme is introduced eligible families continue to follow the eFSM application process so as not to lose out on other benefits.

Further information information for eFMS.

Can school kitchens cope with the expected increase in demand?

Caerphilly County Council is working closely with schools and catering providers to make sure school kitchens are appropriately equipped and resourced.

By phasing the introduction of UPFSM, starting with reception and Year 1 in September 2022 and year 2 and fulltime Nursery pupils on 7th November 2022, we can make sure we are prepared and ready to meet the expected increase in demand.

I would prefer my child(ren) to continue taking a packed lunch to school – will this be possible?

Yes, you can still send your child(ren) into school with a packed lunch if you choose to. You can also take up the offer of UPFSM on some days or provide a packed lunch on others.

I want my child(ren) to have school dinners but I want to continue paying for them – will this be possible?

In line with Welsh Government’s commitment to provide all primary aged pupils with free school meals by 2024, there will be no system in place to pay for a school meal by pupils in the appropriate year groups receiving UPFSM from September 2022.

My child(ren) has/have a specific dietary requirement/allergy. Will this be catered for?

Yes. Special diets and identified allergies are catered for across all schools currently, and this will continue. Please discuss the specific requirements of your child(ren) directly with the school.

My child(ren) is/are fussy eater(s). What options do you have for children to select from?

Catering providers currently offer a fully nutritionally balanced menu which includes various daily options. Please discuss any concerns you may have with your school.

My children prefer sandwiches, will there be an option of a packed lunch under the UPFSM scheme?

Sandwiches can be provided to cater for schools trips or seasonal events throughout the year.

More information about universal primary free school meals will be made available here as and when it becomes available.