Caerphilly County Borough Council has been widely praised on social media for its free school meal provision.
The praise follows criticism of free school meal provision across England on Monday, January 11.
In a series of posts on Twitter, provisions in Caerphilly appear far greater than those received by some households in England.
In Caerphilly, free school meals are coordinated and delivered by the council. In England, households had previously been given vouchers, but schools are now being urged to provide food parcels through their caterers or private food companies.
A number of substandard provisions in England were posted to social media, leading to direct comparisons with the service Caerphilly County Borough Council offers.
In a post on Twitter, England footballer Marcus Rashford, who is campaigning to end child food poverty in the UK, said: “We must do better”.
In December, the Welsh Government announced it would extend its free school meals programme until Easter 2022.
What do free school meals look like in Caerphilly?
The meals are coordinated by the council’s catering team. While schools are closed during lockdown, each eligible family receives a meal box delivered to their home address each fortnight.
The boxes include frozen meals and staple items as well as fresh produce such as bread, milk and vegetables.
The council uses local suppliers where possible and tailors menus to cater for a range of dietary requirements.
Staff from across the council have been redeployed to support the service during the coronavirus pandemic.
In December, Caerphilly County Borough Council served their one millionth free school meal delivery.
Over 5,400 children are provided with free meals in the county every week, while more than 75,000 pupils aged between five and 15 are eligible for free school meals across Wales.
To apply for free school meals, visit caerphilly.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals
How has the UK Government responded to criticism?
The UK Government’s Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford, said there will be an immediate investigation, but defended the provisions and use of parcels instead of vouchers for families in England.
Ms Ford added: “Food parcels should cover all lunchtime meals and be nutritious.
“We’ve increased funding for parcels and will support local vouchers – national voucher also rolling out ASAP, working night and day on this.”
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