"When the news first came out about the universal free school meal provision in Wales, we were so happy because it seemed like all the hard work that we've been doing over these past few years had influenced this in some way - and I’d just like to highlight how happy we are about this. It means that somewhere close to 196,000 more children are going to be on free school meals so that'll be fantastic.
For me, the big thing (and as ambassadors, we've talked about this a lot) is that it's addressing the stigma around free school meals. If everyone is on an equal playing field in primary schools, we should see that stigma reduce, so that's one massive benefit - apart from the other obvious benefits like nutritional value. The only thing I would say is that obviously, at the moment, this is focused on primary schools. Hopefully, we can get that extended to secondary schools as well, because what we might find, is that in the transition between primary school and secondary school, families might struggle. Your secondary school years are such important years of your school life and if children from a young age are getting support with food, but then suddenly, when it comes to secondary school, they're not, then that could have a detrimental impact on their body and ultimately, their outcomes. Perhaps, as a sort of midway, I would suggest that if there was funding available, Welsh Government should look at increasing eligibility for young people in secondary school too. This would mean that the families worst hit by this gap could access the food that they need to. We will be campaigning for free school meals across secondary schools too.
I also think it’s really important to involve young people when thinking about the type of food that’s being offered at school. We are the customer to the Government. We are consuming the food and we should get a say in what we’re served. It would be great to get focus groups goings and surveys – and look at different ways of getting people involved.
On a positive note, I’ve been working on this campaign with Fayeth and the other ambassadors since I was 12 years old, so I've been doing it for quite a long time now. At the start, I wasn't very optimistic. I saw all of these barriers that we're stopping children from accessing their right to food, but as we've campaigned and carried on, we have seen significant changes through our work and through the work of people like Marcus Rashford, who really, really helped the campaign.
And I am very, very optimistic that we can overcome difficult circumstances, like the cost of living crisis if the right ideas are put in place.
We should all work together, but we do need to listen to the voices of young people and those who are experiencing food poverty on a daily basis. This will help us solve some of these massive systemic issues."