Universal school meals for children vital to a fair start

30 March 2023

Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said providing universal school meals is crucial to giving every child a fair start.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said Government must put forward a comprehensive package of ‘Back to School’ measures this September for families struggling with the cost of living.

Deputy Ó Riordáin said:

“Earlier this year, the CSO reported that food price inflation is running at 13% compared with January 2022, so the need to provide free school meals for children is really evident. It is a belated move by Government but a welcome one.

“Strong international evidence points to the success of school meals programmes in improving children’s capacity to learn. They are also essential for the most vulnerable children who come to school without having eaten breakfast and with no school lunch.

“Hunger does not take a break when schools close, however. We know that families around the country continue to struggle with the increased cost of living so it is vital that Government puts forward a comprehensive package of ‘Back to School’ supports for families ahead of the return to school in September.

“Labour is committed to eradicating disadvantage and providing a fair start for all children. Year on year, the cost of sending children back to school is rising, with parents forgoing bills and cutting back on daily essentials in order to send their kids back to school. Parents pay too much for young children to go to school. We have made numerous proposals to Government to substantially reduce the cost of education for parents.

“We all know it is expensive to raise a family in Ireland and that cost is only rising under this conservative coalition. Greater investment and attention is necessary to ensure that no child is left behind.”

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