Continued funding for Schools Meals Programme confirmed

The government has today (Thursday 26 March) issued schools with updated guidance to help them operate the School Meals Programme amid the extended Covid-19 restrictions.

This will ensure that nutritious food gets to many thousands of young people who need it the most.

All schools are closed until April 19 at the earliest as part of further restrictions to limit the spread of infection.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs devised updated guidelines for the 1,580 schools and organisations in the programme as they set out to source and supply meals during the extended closures.

Schools are allowed to maintain the service during the Easter holidays and are asked to consider providing weekly boxes of non-perishable, nutritious goods.

Tusla Education Support Service will communicate with all Home School Community Liaison co-ordinators and School Completion Programmes and ask staff in those services to liaise with principals where they work to ensure that children and families in need of the School Meals Programme are identified and supported.

Schools have also been advised that if their current provider is unavailable to continue the service they can look at other options, such as a local charity in the community providing food or meals or sourcing supplies from an alternative provider or retailer.

Freshtoday, one of Ireland’s leading school meal providers, addressed the issue by preparing for the delivery of emergency provisions.

Each child availing of the scheme will be entitled to a weekly provision of groceries, delivered to their school for collection.

CEO of Freshtoday, Ray Nangle, said: “The School Meal Scheme has been a vital service in Deis schools. With current closures, families are facing extraordinary challenges.

“We have had calls from schools across the country desperately seeking food for students in dire need.

“We will be working tirelessly to ensure that a weeks’ supply of goods will be delivered to Deis schools for distribution.

“This will alleviate not only financial difficulties, but also help in restricting shopping times and community exposure”.

The emergency provision will be made available to all children availing of the school meal scheme.

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