Gwynedd Council will fund free meals over the summer holiday for children from low-income families.

The families of Gwynedd schoolchildren who are eligible for free school lunches on the basis of low-income will receive payments towards meals over the coming summer holiday, following the decision of the council cabinet to approve an urgent recommendation to fund the costs.

The parents or guardians of around 2,700 primary and secondary school pupils in Gwynedd who qualify for the benefit will receive £3.90 a day over the holidays, from July 21 to August 31.

The council anticipates that the scheme will cost around £316,000 to fund, and a report on the matter was presented to the cabinet following the Welsh Government's decision not to extend the national scheme to provide free school meals for the 2023 summer break. This national scheme was first launched by the Welsh Government during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cllr Beca Brown, cabinet member for education, said: "Families across Gwynedd continue to feel the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis and we know that the children will be the ones suffering the most. The summer holidays should be a time for families to relax and have fun together, not spent worrying about how they will find the money to pay for everyday necessities.

“With this in mind, it was disappointing to learn so late in the day about the government's decision to end the national arrangement to provide free school meals over holidays for low-income families across Wales.

“As a council, we were extremely concerned that it would be extremely difficult for vulnerable families to change their budget priorities for the summer at such short notice. Since receiving formal confirmation of this policy change from the Government on 28 June, we have been weighing up the measures we can put in place to support families here in Gwynedd and to help them bridge the gap.

“Now that the council’s cabinet have supported the recommendation, I would urge all families who are eligible for this additional support to make sure that they apply for the funding via the Council website or by contacting our Education Department on 01286 685 047.”

Council leader, Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, added: “I am delighted that we have been able to put this urgent measure in place, which will support the county's most vulnerable families.

“This is of course just one measure among the wide range of schemes Gwynedd Council already has in place to help local families to cope with the effects of the cost-of-living crisis. These include support to claim benefits; help for people struggling to afford food including for example a mobile food shop and food pantries; and support so that people can better manage their domestic energy bills.

“I would encourage anyone struggling to make ends meet to take look at our website for details of the range of support and information available:”