This measure is set to increase the expenditure on the School Meals scheme through the provision of an additional €3m in the Budget, increasing the total provision from €39m to €42m.
Research has shown that inadequate nutrition impacts negatively on children’s ability to learn and benefit from education.
The School Meals scheme provides regular, nutritious food to children who are unable, by reason of lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided for them. Proper nutrition can improve children’s ability to concentrate, improve disruptive behavior and encourages children to attend school. The School Meals Programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement by children especially those from the most disadvantaged background.
Budget 2016 will build on the commitment of the previous budget to support and prioritize breakfast clubs. School principals have sought additional funding to cater for increased pupil numbers in recent years.
This additional funding will be used to increase the number of pupils participating in the scheme through increasing payments to existing DEIS schools with a particular focus on the provision of breakfast clubs which provide very positive outcomes for vulnerable children in terms of their school attendance, punctuality and energy levels. The funding will also be used to facilitate DEIS schools not currently participating in the scheme.
The budget for the scheme remained at €35m from 2009 until it was increased to €37m in Budget 2013. Budget 2014 announced the provision of extra breakfast clubs to support school going children in disadvantaged areas under this scheme. Budget 2015 announced an additional €2m for the scheme bringing it to €39m. The current measure will bring the total available for the scheme to €42m.