78 Thousand Children In Need Of School Breakfast Club Meals – McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the level of demand for the school meals programme as a disturbing barometer of child poverty levels which currently exist across the state. Deputy McGrath was speaking after it was confirmed to him by the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar that 78,000 children avail of school breakfast schemes as a proportion of the 200,000 children which are utilising the broader school meals initiative:

 “The Minister acknowledges that the objective of the scheme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children who are unable, due to lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided to them.

The fact that there has been a particular focus on the promotion of breakfast clubs to provide very positive outcomes for vulnerable children in terms of their school attendance, punctuality and energy levels demonstrates the scale of the child poverty that exists.

While it is certainly to be applauded that so many children have been enabled to receive a nutritious meal, it is also the case that many schools are not receiving adequate funding to meet the need that exists.

I know this to be the case in a major town here in Tipperary which, although it received €231,080 funding in 2015/2016, still fell short.

I would appeal to the Minister to increase the existing spend of €6,963,345 so that we can ensure that absolutely no child need go hungry before the start of the school day,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

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