THE Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys has announced that funding for the School Meals Programme will continue throughout the summer holidays.
Funding under the School Meals Programme is normally confined to the academic year, but an exception has been made this summer in recognition of Covid-19.
This extension will ensure that participating primary and secondary schools can provide food parcels benefiting thousands of pupils over the summer months.
Minister Humphreys has also confirmed that funding from her Department will be made available to schools participating in the Department of Education’s School-Based Education Programme, which focuses on pupils with complex special educational needs those at risk of educational disadvantage.
Minister Humphreys has also opened applications for the Back To School Clothing and Footwear Allowance, which last year supported 111,000 families with back to school costs.
Minister Humphreys commented:
“I am pleased to extend the funding for the School Meals Programme to schools throughout the summer holidays. This will ensure that thousands of children will continue to receive a healthy and nutritious meal every day.
"Extending the funding for the School Meals Programme during school closures over the past twelve months has provided security to the pupils, during what I know has been a very difficult time during a very unusual school year,” she said.
The School Meals Programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,506 schools and organisations benefiting 230,000 children. The Government is providing over €65 million in funding to deliver the School Meals Programme this year.
Minister Humphreys also confirmed that funding under the School Meals Programme will be made available to schools participating in the Department of Education’s School-Based Summer Education Programme to provide breakfast and lunch for the pupils attending.
The Summer Education Programme focuses on pupils with complex special educational needs and other pupils who are at risk of educational disadvantage.
It has been introduced this summer as a Covid-19 response measure and it will assist the pupils taking part to re-engage with education, build confidence and increase motivation and promote wellbeing.
In addition, for some who are at key transition stages, this programme will help them move along with their peers to the next stage in their education.
Minister Humphreys also announced that her Department’s Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance scheme for 2021 opened for applications on Monday, June 21.
The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance provides a once-off payment to eligible families towards the cost of school clothing and footwear.
The allowance paid for each eligible child aged 4-11 years on or before September 30 2021 is €150 while an allowance of €275 is paid for each eligible child aged 12-22 years on or before September 30 2021.
Students aged between 18-22 years must be returning to full-time second-level education in a recognised school or college in the autumn of 2021 to retain an entitlement to payment.
Minister Humphreys commented:
“The majority of payments for 2021 Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance will be issued automatically to some 111,000 families in respect of 204,000 children. Some €42 million will be paid to these families during the week beginning July 12,” she said.
The Department of Social Protection is currently processing these payments and these customers will receive written confirmation informing them of their automatic entitlement. The Government is providing €53.5 million for the Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance this year.
Families who do not receive notification from the Department of an automated payment today will need to make an application online on www.mywelfare.ie even if they received a payment last year. Online applications can be made anytime from July 21.