Written answers

Thursday, 16 November 2023

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

School Meals Programme

Photo of Violet-Anne WynneViolet-Anne Wynne (Clare, Independent)
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173. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if anything can be done in a case (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50463/23]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The School Meals Programme funds the provision of food to some 1,700 schools and organisations benefitting some 300,000 children. The objective of the Programme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children to enable them to take full advantage of the education provided to them.

Funding under the School Meals Programme can be provided for breakfast, snack, cold lunch, dinner, hot school meals and afterschool clubs and is based on a maximum rate per child per day, depending on the type of meal being provided.

The Hot School Meal option of the Programme was introduced in 2019 and is currently only available in primary schools.

Ennistymon Vocational School, which was a DEIS secondary school, amalgamated with two non-DEIS secondary schools – Meanscoil na mBráithre and Scoil Mhuire – to form Ennistymon Community School at the end of August 2023.

The new amalgamated school was designated with non-DEIS status by the Department of Education.

In line with Department of Education policy, the pupils from the former DEIS school holds its DEIS supports, including school meals funding, for a period of 6 years until the pupils from the former DEIS school have transitioned out of the school. In other words, the students who had been in the DEIS school before the amalgamation can retain their entitlement to school meals until they have completed secondary school.

It is important to say that Meanscoil na mBráithre and Scoil Mhuire had not been in the School Meals Programme prior to to the amalgamation.

In light of the circumstances which have arisen at this school, which is in no way the fault of the pupils, I have instructed my officials to continue funding for school meals for all students until the end of the school year.

This will allow time for officials from my Department and the Department of Education to engage with the Principal and the Board of Management of Ennistymon Community School on these matters.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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