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School meals budget up by €2m as children go hungry

THE Government has increased its school meals allocation by €2m this year as more children are going to school hungry.

The funding allocated for the school meals programme in 2013 rose to €37m, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton told the Dail.

 

Problem

Some 191,000 primary school students use the programme. It's available across 1,300 schools and groups in the current academic year.

Deputy John Halligan (Ind) said the increase in funding was "recognition by the minister that it is a serious problem".

Mr Halligan said we were in the middle of a "nutritional recession" and told of visiting a house with a mother and four young children having their Sunday dinner of beans and chips.

He also recently raised the issue of food poverty.

"If you look at Dublin alone, school principals at a recent conference were aghast at what they were seeing," said Mr Halligan. "Children were presenting themselves at school hungry and without proper clothing."

According to Mr Halligan, school principals, charity St Vincent de Paul and anti-poverty groups were all telling him the same thing.

"If you have a situation where someone has lost a job, has a mortgage and a car loan and is on social welfare, obviously someone must be suffering," he said.

– MICHAEL LAVERY


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