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School meals for children to be provided over the summer, government confirms

There had been calls for the school meals programme to be extended over the summer.

Image: Shutterstock/PJjaruwan

THE SCHOOL MEALS programme is set to be extended over the summer, the government has announced this evening, in a decision that affects 250,000 children across the country. 

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty confirmed the decision at a post-cabinet press conference this evening. 

“Generally, the funding for the school meals programme ceases at the end of the school year –the end of May for post-primary schools and the end of June for primary schools,” she said. 

“However, I want the scheme to be available over the summer period to ensure children who do not have access to nutritious food will continue to receive meals during the summer school holidays.”

The move comes following a campaign from Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who welcomed the decision this evening. 

In March, the Irish government confirmed the programme would be extended during Covid-19 restrictions. Under guidance issued by the Department of Education, the collection of food or food parcels from schools by individuals was to take place only where delivery to pupils’ home addresses was not possible. 

Speaking in the Dáil earlier this month, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said there were “logistical issues” in continuing the programme over the summer. 

The programme provides funding towards food to approximately 1,580 schools and organisations. 

Support grants

Doherty also announced that her department’s enterprise support grant will be made available to self-employed people who are leaving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. 

People will be able to benefit from a one-off grant of up to €1,000 to re-start their business. 

Self-employed businesses which employ less than 10 people, have an annual turnover of less than €1 million and are not eligible for other Covid-19 business grants will be able to receive the support. 

“We want to get Ireland back working again. In many cases, this means tackling the roadblocks and obstacles which stop an otherwise viable business from getting back up and running or simply giving them a helping hand. It is crucial that we approach this task in an innovative and flexible manner and this is what underpins today’s announcement,” Doherty said. 

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