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Government decides to extend school Meals Programme to summer

DUBLIN: The Government has decided to extend the School Meals Programme into the summer in view of the impact of COVID-19 in Ireland. The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys, who announced the extension the programme, said the plan will ensure that thousands of primary and secondary school students from every county have a healthy and nutritious meal every day.

The School Meals Programme is normally only available during the school year, but this time an exception has been made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Humphries said food for some children will be delivered to their homes and some will have to collect from the school.

The Government will provide €65 million to fund this year’s School Meals Programme, which will benefit 1,506 schools and organisations and about 230,000 children.

€118 million – three schemes

The minister said a total of €118 million was being provided in three schemes to support school children and their families. The Department of Education’s School-Based Summer Education Program and the Department of Social Protection’s Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme 2021 are the other two programmes.

The School Meals Programme will provide breakfast and lunch to schools taking part in the School Based Summer Education Program.

Applications for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme 2021, which will provide once-off payments for eligible families, are now being accepted.

Each child aged 4-11 on or before September 30 receives a €150 allowance, and each student aged 12-22 on or before September 30 receives a €275 payment. This allowance will benefit 111,000 families, with 204,000 children affected. Ms. Humphreys said the Government is providing €53.5 million in funding as part of this programme.

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