Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (585)

Maureen O'Sullivan


585. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a school (detailed supplied) is excluded from the breakfast clubs which tackle food poverty; and if she will review this decision and make the necessary changes. [16219/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children at a total cost of €57.6 million in 2019 representing an increase of €3.6 million over the previous year. The objective of the scheme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children who are unable, due to lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided to them. The programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement.

The scheme provides funding for a breakfast or snack for all children and lunch for up to 90% of children in DEIS schools for the entire school year from September to June. For the first time in many years, breakfasts are also now available to some schools outside DEIS.

In 2018, an application was approved for the Aisling Project to provide a breakfast in 7 primary schools in Ballymun. The breakfast clubs, called the Early Bird Clubs, were previously operated by The Ballymun Educational Support Team School Completion Programme (BEST SCP) and were part of the Ballymun Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force funding provision through the Department of Health. 

The two schools identified by the Deputy were not involved in the BEST SCP Early Bird Clubs and, as such, were not approved for funding through the Aisling Project’s application for breakfast clubs. However, both are DEIS schools and are currently being funded in their own right for a breakfast/snack for all children and a lunch for up to 90% of children based on the enrolment figure provided by the Department of Education and Skills.

If the school availing of the snack club wishes to avail of a breakfast club instead it should contact the Departments school meals section. 

I trust this clarifies the matter.