Alert Section

Universal Primary Free School Meals

Universal free school meals roll-out to commence in September 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

More information about universal primary free school meals will be made available here as and when it becomes available.

1. What are Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM)?

UPFSM is part of the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, which will see school meals being available to all primary school pupils for free over the next three years regardless of household income.

2. Free School Meals (eFSM) and Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) understanding the difference

Universal Primary Free School Meals (UPFSM) - It is Welsh Government’s aim that every child in primary school in Wales will be eligible for a universal primary free school meal (UPFSM) by 2024, regardless of household income. There will be no forms to fill in. Receiving a UPFSM in this way does not automatically entitle families to receive other benefits such as school uniform grants. 


Free School Meals (eFSM) - Some families who meet certain criteria, for example those on lower incomes or in receipt of certain benefits, are entitled to receive a free school meal (eFSM).  

On a successful application for eFSM families are then eligible for other benefits to cover the cost of school essentials such as school uniform grants (PDG). 

Even though the roll out of UPFSM will begin in September 2022, and eligible year groups will begin to receive free school meals, families who are eligible for eFSM should continue to use the eFSM application process to ensure they don't lose out on other benefits

For more information on eFSM and uniform grants go to:

As well as families, schools also benefit from eFSM.  For every child who applies for and is granted an eFSM, their school can also access funding to help pay for school essentials to benefit learners.

3. When will UPFSM be available to pupils?

Welsh Government have given the commitment for a phased introduction of UPFSM to all primary school pupils by 2024 beginning with:

  • Reception pupils - September 2022
  • Years 1 and 2 – April 2023

Although Welsh Government has allowed councils - where they are able - some flexibility to introduce years 1 and 2 earlier, there is a lot of work to do behind the scenes to get ready for this significant increase in demand. To ensure we can introduce UPFSM consistently to all who are eligible at the same time, we will be working to the timeline set by Welsh Government above.

We will keep you updated on plans for the continued roll out of UPFSMs for years 3 to 6 over the coming months.

4. I have older child(ren) when do you expect to introduce UPFSM to years 3 and above?

The aim of Welsh Government is that all primary aged pupils will receive a UPFSM by 2024. There is a lot of work to be done to equip and resource our school kitchens to cope with the expected increase in demand. Here in Flintshire all schools will move at the same pace and will introduce UPFSM to eligible year groups at the same time.

We will keep you updated on plans for the continued roll out of UPFSMs for years 3 to 6 over the coming months.

5. Will I need to fill in an application form to get UPFSM for my child(ren)?

All pupils in the appropriate year groups are qualified to receive UPFSM automatically. Parents and carers will not need to fill in an application form but will be asked by schools on a weekly basis, which days they would like their child(ren) to take up this offer

6. I am on a low income and my child(ren) currently receive free school meals (eFSM) how will the introduction of UPFSM affect me?

Families on low incomes or those in receipt of certain benefits will not be affected by the introduction of UPFSM. Families in receipt of eFSM will continue to be eligible to receive other benefits through the PDG access grant, such as school uniforms. There is an application process for eFSMs and it is important that when the new UPFSM scheme is introduced eligible families continue to follow the eFSM application process so as not to lose out on other benefits. For more information about the eligibility criteria and the application process for eFSM please follow this link

7. Can school kitchens cope with the expected increase in demand?

Flintshire County Council is working closely with schools and catering providers to make sure school kitchens are appropriately equipped and resourced.

By phasing the introduction of UPFSM, starting with reception in September 2022 and years 1 and 2 in April 2023, we can make sure we are prepared and ready to meet the expected increase in demand.

8. I would prefer my child(ren) to continue taking a packed lunch to school – will this be possible?

Yes, you can still send your child(ren) into school with a packed lunch if you choose to. You can also take up the offer of UPFSM on some days or provide a packed lunch on others.

9. I want my child(ren) to have school dinners but I want to continue paying for them – will this be possible?

In line with Welsh Government’s commitment to provide all primary aged pupils with free school meals by 2024, there will be no system in place to pay for a school meal by pupils in the appropriate year groups receiving UPFSM from September 2022.

10. My child(ren) has/have a specific dietary requirement/allergy. Will this be catered for?

Yes. Special diets and identified allergies are catered for across all schools currently, and this will continue. Please discuss the specific requirements of your child(ren) directly with the school.

11. My child(ren) is/are fussy eater(s). What options do you have for children to select from?

Catering providers currently offer a fully nutritionally balanced menu which includes various daily options. Please discuss any concerns you may have with your school.

12. My children prefers sandwiches, will there be an option of a packed lunch under the UPFSM scheme?

Yes a nutritionally balanced packed lunch will be one of the offers at all schools daily.


Parent and children consultation

To help us plan effectively, we are seeking feedback from parents of local primary aged children. To capture this we have created a survey, completion of which is anonymous.  

Parents may also receive a request to complete this survey from their children’s school. Please only complete the survey once. 
The survey is currently available in English and Welsh, should you require it in an alternative format, please contact: 

Survey Closed

The survey will remain open until 23:59 on Sunday 31th July 2022.