Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (801)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

801. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the provision of a third school meal being provided to schools in Ballymun can be extended to include schools (details supplied) in response to the closure of clubs in the schools. [29673/19]

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. Funding, for third and subsequent clubs, can only be considered where a historical entitlement exists. Where funding is provided for a third club, it is capped at the same level as previous years.

The three schools identified by the Deputy are DEIS schools and are currently being funded 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.  No food clubs funded by the department have been closed.

Changes to increase the funding of the scheme, to provide a third food club in DEIS schools, would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

I trust this clarifies the matter.