50,000 pupils to get free meals as plan expands

Nearly 50,000 extra children will receive free meals at school from September under an expansion of Government funding for the scheme.

The additional €3m is on top of an extra €2.5m which was announced in last October’s budget to increase funding to schools already in the School Meals Programme.

The aim is to provide breakfast or lunch, or both, at nearly 250 more schools from the next school year. These will include 64 schools added recently to the Department of Education’s DEIS programme, which offers help to schools catering for pupils with the most disadvantaged pupils.

In addition to that €1.7m investment to provide breakfast and lunch clubs, a further €1.5m will be spent to offer free breakfasts at up to 180 non-DEIS schools with 35,000 pupils.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said the additional funding allows his department to expand the School Meals Programme for the first time in a long time to 180 non-DEIS schools “because, as we know, disadvantage extends beyond designated disadvantaged schools”.

Mr Varadkar said around 200,000 children currently benefit at 1,400 schools. This includes more than 250 community creches, preschools, and other settings.


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