Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Ceisteanna (758)

John Brady


758. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason the delivery of the school meals programme for a school (details supplied) cannot be delivered during the summer months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15434/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children. 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 operation and administration of the scheme is the responsibility of the school; this includes the delivery model, choice of supplier to be used and food items to be provided. The scheme can be delivered in a variety of ways and depends on the needs, capabilities and resources, including infrastructure, of the schools or groups.

Following the announcement of the closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic on 12th March 2020, schools and organisations participating in the school meals programme expressed concerns about the impact of school closures on pupils who avail of school meals, and that the unavailability of school meals impacts in particular on the most disadvantaged in our society.

My Department confirmed that funding to schools would continue to enable schools to provide food until the end of the current school year - the end of May 2020 for post-primary schools and the end of June 2020 for primary schools, in line with the parameters of the school meals scheme. This funding was further extended to allow schools who choose to continue to provide food during the summer period until the start of the new academic year 2020/2021.

Any schools who wish to avail of additional funding to cover the provision of meals in July and August should contact the school meals section at school.meals@welfare.ie and funding will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

I trust that this clarifies the position.

Question No. 759 answered with Question No. 688.