Members of TCC (Trefnu Cymunedol Cymru / Together Creating Communities), are celebrating after Welsh Government made new commitments to Free School Meals in response to the charity’s School Hunger / Dysgu Nid Llwgu campaign.
TCC, an alliance of over 35 local community groups, launched the Wales-wide campaign in November this year. Last week, TCC community leaders met with First Minister Mark Drakeford AM, to discuss the campaign.
In today’s draft budget, Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans AM committed an extra £450k to run a breakfast pilot in secondary schools, starting from September 2020. This will be for pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals and will mean they will be able to get a healthy and nutritious breakfast, either before school starts, or during morning break. The draft budget also includes funding to extend free school meal provision through the Pupil Development Grant.
The School Hunger / Dysgu Nid Llwgu campaign was launched after teaching staff at TCC member group Ysgol y Grango, Wrexham, experienced young people coming into school hungry and spending their free school meals allowance as soon as they could on breakfast. This meant they then couldn’t afford to eat a proper meal at lunchtime as well, and teaching staff were stepping in to provide food or money so that pupils could eat. These stories were backed up by TCC research, which showed that this was happening across Wales.
Headteacher of Ysgol y Grango and TCC member, Mr Stephen Garthwaite, says “As headteacher of Ysgol y Grango, I’m delighted and proud that the daily experience of our staff illuminated a national story. Through organising with TCC, we have brought about a national change, as shown in this draft budget. It will mean pupils can start the day with food in their stomachs, which can only be good for their well-being as well as their ability to learn”.
Teaching assistant, Mrs Yvonne Girvan, says: “I couldn’t stand by when pupils were arriving at school hungry, having had no breakfast. Most staff I know were doing the same, spending their own money on feeding children, and TCC’s research - amongst others - showed this was happening across the country. This is brilliant news for the poorest children in Wales, and it shows what we can achieve as communities when we take constructive action on the social issues facing us”.
TCC chair of trustees, Rev Dr Jennie Hurd says: “Next year, TCC will have been running successful community organising campaigns in Wales for 25 years. We would like to congratulate the Welsh Government on committing to this pilot for breakfast provision for pupils in secondary school who are eligible for free school meals.”