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Summer food scheme for schoolchildren in NI

Direct payments from the Education Department in lieu of the benefit for those from deprived backgrounds was scheduled to cease at the end of June.

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A summer food scheme is to be established for children entitled to free school meals, the education minister in Northern Ireland Peter Weir said Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

A summer food scheme is to be established for children entitled to free school meals, the education minister in Northern Ireland Peter Weir said Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

A summer food scheme is to be established for children entitled to free school meals, the education minister in Northern Ireland Peter Weir said Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA)

A summer food scheme is to be established for children entitled to free school meals, the education minister in Northern Ireland said.

Direct payments from the Education Department in lieu of the benefit for those from deprived backgrounds was scheduled to cease at the end of June.

Peter Weir said: “Subject to the availability of funding, the Executive has agreed that a similar but separate summer food scheme would be established to alleviate hardship over the summer months for the families of children entitled to free school meals direct payments.”

He is also extending a programme to provide healthy lunch and breakfast to around 5,000 deprived young people.

“The disruption to our children’s learning caused by Covid-19 cannot be over-estimated,” he added.

He said he was considering how to bring forward projects to support learning over the summer and beyond.

Extra supports are also being brought in for deprived areas for literacy, numeracy, and mental health interventions.

Mr Weir gave evidence on Thursday to Stormont’s ad hoc committee on the Covid-19 response.

PA