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Cymraeg

Greater choice introduced for free school meals

Parents and carers in Swansea whose children are eligible for free school meals are to have the choice of continuing to receive weekly food bags, having direct payments to their bank accounts to provide lunches themselves or they can opt out of the scheme entirely should they wish.

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Arrangements currently vary with some councils in Wales offering food parcels, vouchers or direct payments. At the moment Swansea Council distributes around 7,500 weekly food bags to eligible families via schools.

Eligible parents who want to receive direct payments of the cash equivalent of £39 per fortnight paid directly to their bank account instead will soon be able to apply for this securely using a new online application created by the Council's Education and IT departments.

The first payment will be available from the week commencing the 25th May provided they have applied on-line by 3pm on Wednesday (May 20).

Parents and carers who qualify will be notified of the choice by the start of next week but they can make the switch in subsequent weeks should they wish.

Those who choose to continue with food bags will receive them on Tuesday 26th May rather than the usual Monday as that is a bank holiday.

Jennifer Raynor, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, said: "In Swansea our approach is to offer parents and carers the choice between weekly food bags or direct payments so they can decide which suits them best.  Direct cash payments may not be suitable for all eligible families.

"We have seen an increasing number of families qualifying for free school meals because of job losses and people losing income while on furlough and unfortunately this is only going to increase. Swansea Council will do all it can to support them."

Cllr Raynor added: "Since the start of the pandemic our catering staff, school staff and other council workers have done an amazing job delivering many thousands of meals for local children who need them.

"I know the vast majority of parents and carers have appreciated the service and the support they've received. For those who want to continue receiving the weekly bags I can reassure them the council will be there for them.

"We are continually reviewing the content of the bags to improve the nutritional quality as produce becomes available.

"Some parents and carers have indicated they would prefer direct payments and we have been working hard to put these arrangements in place."

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