Written Answers. - School Meals.

Joe Costello

Question:

302 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when the new targeted scheme for school meals for disadvantaged pupils will be established in regard to the commitment given in An Agreed Programme for Government; the way in which the areas for inclusion will be selected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14749/02]

Establishing a new targeted scheme of school meals for disadvantaged pupils is a very significant task that will require consultation between the relevant Government Departments, schools and other interested bodies. These consultations will commence during the summer and will include consideration of the appropriate criteria for selecting areas or schools for inclusion in the new scheme. In that regard, the commitment in the review of the national anti-poverty strategy, "Building an Inclusive Society", to reduce the number of young people who leave the school system early will be particularly relevant. Proposals emerging from a review of the existing school meals scheme which has been undertaken by my Department, will provide the basis for preparing the proposals for a new school meals system and for the necessary consultations. The interdepartmental working group that is undertaking the review considers that school meals have continued relevance and propose an enhanced programme of food provision in the school setting. These proposals will be finalised shortly and will provide the basis for reaching agreement with other interested parties on the arrangements for the new system of school meal provision.