The Welsh Government (wgmin_education) has guaranteed free school meal provision for all school holidays up to and including Easter 2021, thanks to £11m confirmed today (15 Oct) by Education Minister Kirsty Williams.

The move has been backed by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford saying he welcomed ‘the Welsh Government's swift response to this urgent need in protecting the most vulnerable children across the country.’

Making the announcement ahead of the October half term through a video released on her Twitter channel, the Minister said she hoped the confirmation would provide ‘some reassurance in these times of uncertainty’. 

The Minister also confirmed that more than £700k had also been allocated to support colleges with the equivalent provision for eligible learners.

Speaking today, the Minister said:

“We have worked tirelessly this year to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and the countless challenges it has presented but we have not, and will not, forget those for who school is about far more than education.

“I am pleased to confirm that we have today made £11m available to provide free school meal provisions over every school holiday up to and including Easter 2021.

“I really hope this provides some reassurance in these times of uncertainty.”

Marcus Rashford MBE added:

"Holiday provision is vital to stabilising households during the school closures, given the devastating effects of COVID-19.

“Having this framework in place for the foreseeable future will have a significantly positive impact on children who are struggling to engage in learning due to anxiety and fear, not to mention the noise of their rumbling stomachs.

“No child in 2020 should be sat in a classroom worried about how they are going to access food during the holidays, and the impact that will have on their parents when matched with unemployment, ill health and, in some cases, personal loss.

“There is still so much more work to be done to protect this next generation but I welcome the Welsh Government's swift response to this urgent need in protecting the most vulnerable children across the country. Our children and their welfare should never not be the priority."

Daisy Cooper 100x100Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

"This decision by Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams is wonderful news and will really ease the worries of thousands of parents in Wales as they look ahead to the uncertainty of the next six months.

"It is essential that Conservative Ministers in Westminster follow the Liberal Democrats lead in Wales, and agree to extend free school meals to holidays in England. It would be simply unforgivable to let children go hungry this winter.

"We know that giving school children a hot, healthy meal at lunchtime greatly improves their health, behaviour and results. What we don’t know is why the Conservatives continue to callously refuse to give children who receive free school meals, the same hot, healthy meal in the school holidays."

Ensuring the continuation of free school meal provision has been a key priority for the Welsh Government as it has responded to the coronavirus pandemic - it had already allocated £41.7m before today’s announcement bringing the total now to £52.7m.

When the Minister announced she would close schools on Wednesday, March 18 she quickly confirmed that £7 million would be made available to local authorities to put in place measures to ensure that children eligible for free school meals would continue to benefit from this scheme.

Then on April 22 Wales became the first country in the UK to guarantee ongoing funding for children to continue to benefit from free school meal provision up to and including the end of the summer holidays

On September 20, after schools had reopened, the Minister confirmed at least £420,000 had been made available to ensure all pupils entitled to free school meals would continue to receive provisions if they were shielding or had to self-isolate.

Marcus Rashford MBE yn croesawu penderfyniad Llywodraeth Cymru i ddarparu prydau ysgol am ddim yn ystod pob gwyliau ysgol tan Pasg 2021

Mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi gwarantu y bydd prydau ysgol am ddim yn cael eu darparu yn ystod pob gwyliau ysgol hyd at a chan gynnwys Pasg 2021, diolch i £11m a gadarnhawyd heddiw gan y Gweinidog Addysg, Kirsty Williams.

Fe gafodd y penderfyniad ei ganmol gan chwaraewr pêl-droed Manchester United, Marcus Rashford, a ddywedodd ei fod yn croesawu ymateb sydyn Llywodraeth Cymru i’r angen i ddiogelu’r plant mwyaf agored i niwed ar draws y wlad ar frys. 

Wrth wneud y cyhoeddiad cyn hanner tymor mis Hydref drwy fideo a ryddhawyd ar ei sianel Twitter, dywedodd y Gweinidog ei bod yn gobeithio y byddai'r cadarnhad yn rhoi rhywfaint o dawelwch meddwl yn ystod y cyfnod hwn o ansicrwydd. 

Cadarnhaodd y Gweinidog hefyd fod mwy na £700k wedi'i neilltuo i helpu colegau gyda'r ddarpariaeth gyfatebol ar gyfer dysgwyr cymwys.

Wrth siarad heddiw, dywedodd y Gweinidog: "Rydyn ni wedi gweithio'n ddiflino eleni i ymateb i'r pandemig coronafeirws a'r heriau di-rif sydd wedi codi yn ei sgil, ond dydyn ni ddim wedi, nac yn mynd i, anghofio'r rhai sy’n dibynnu ar yr ysgol am lawer mwy nag addysg.

"Mae'n bleser gen i gadarnhau ein bod ni heddiw wedi neilltuo £11m ar gyfer darparu prydau ysgol am ddim yn ystod pob gwyliau ysgol hyd at a chan gynnwys Pasg 2021.

"Rwy'n gobeithio'n fawr y bydd hyn yn rhoi rhywfaint o dawelwch meddwl yn y cyfnod hwn o ansicrwydd."

Ychwanegodd Marcus Rashford MBE: “Mae darpariaeth yn ystod y gwyliau yn hanfodol i sicrhau sefydlogrwydd ar aelwydydd tra bo ysgolion ar gau, gan ystyried effeithiau andwyol Covid-19.

“Mae’r ffaith bod y fframwaith hwn yn ei le am y tro yn mynd i gael effaith gadarnhaol sylweddol ar blant sy’n cael trafferth dysgu yn sgil pryder ac ofn, gyda’u stumogau’n cnoi ag awydd bwyd.

“Ni ddylai unrhyw blentyn yn 2020 fod yn eistedd mewn ystafell ddosbarth yn poeni sut mae’n mynd i gael bwyd yn ystod y gwyliau, a’r effaith y bydd yn ei gael ar rieni sy’n dygymod â diweithdra, afiechyd ac mewn rhai achosion, colled bersonol.

“Mae gymaint o waith i’w wneud o hyd i amddiffyn y genhedlaeth nesaf, ond rwy’n croesawu ymateb sydyn Llywodraeth Cymru i’r angen i ddiogelu’r plant mwyaf agored i niwed ar draws y wlad ar frys. Ein plant a’u lles ddylai fod yn flaenoriaeth i ni bob tro.”

Mae sicrhau bod prydau ysgol am ddim yn parhau i gael eu darparu wedi bod yn flaenoriaeth allweddol i Lywodraeth Cymru wrth ymateb i'r pandemig coronaferiws – roedd eisoes wedi neilltuo £41.7m cyn y cyhoeddiad heddiw, gan ddod â'r cyfanswm yn awr i £52.7m.

Pan gyhoeddodd y Gweinidog y byddai'n cau ysgolion ddydd Mercher, 18 Mawrth, cadarnhaodd yn gyflym y byddai £7 miliwn ar gael i awdurdodau lleol i roi mesurau ar waith er mwyn sicrhau y byddai plant sy'n gymwys i gael prydau ysgol am ddim yn parhau i elwa o'r cynllun hwnnw.

Yna ar Ebrill 22, Cymru oedd y wlad gyntaf yn y DU i warantu cyllid pellach er mwyn i blant barhau i gael prydau ysgol am ddim hyd at ddiwedd gwyliau'r haf.

Ar 20 Medi, ar ôl i ysgolion ailagor, cadarnhaodd y Gweinidog fod £420,000 wedi'i neilltuo i sicrhau y byddai pob disgybl sydd â hawl i gael prydau ysgol am ddim yn parhau i’w derbyn wrth hunanwarchod neu hunanynysu.

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