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Written Answers. - School Meals Scheme.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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 255. Mr. Crowe Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe  asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan  her views on the proposed increase to the school meals programme laid out in the budget; and her further views on whether this is adequate to meet the needs of the thousands of hungry working class children going to school every day. [26921/02]

Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mary Coughlan): Information on Mary Coughlan Zoom on Mary Coughlan My Department operates two separate school meals schemes: the urban school meals scheme and the school meals community programme. Under the urban school meals scheme, local authorities can, in certain circumstances, arrange to provide meals for children attending national schools and 50% of the cost of the food is refunded by my Department.

Under the school meals community programme, a total of 109 schools and voluntary organisations received funding in 2002. This benefited 8,500 children approximately, at a cost of just under €1 million.

The benefits of providing school meals include better nutrition, improved attendance and quality of learning at school and the projects supported have generated positive feedback in that regard.

As the Deputy is aware, I provided additional funding of €2 million in the recent budget for the programme. The additional resources provided in the budget will enable me to continue to provide this service and, where appropriate, to expand it. A wide-ranging review of the school meals provision has recently been completed by an inter-agency working group chaired by my Department. Its conclusions are now receiving detailed [1612]consideration, involving extensive consultations with interested parties and I will be considering what further changes might be required in the scheme in the light of those consultations.


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