Barnardos Children’s Fund is calling for the hot school meals program to be extended to include the holiday periods, reports RTE.
In addition, the program is to be extended to secondary schools and other non-Deis schools.
Suzanne Connolly, chief executive of Barnardos, said following a report by the RTÉ Morning Ireland charity that parents and their children had to go without or without essentials for the past six months due to the increased cost of living.
The hot meals program needs to be extended to more schools and into the school holidays, Ms Connolly said, urging the government to consider running a pilot program during the summer holidays this year.
“It’s worth a try to try and see if that is a way that families can access food during that period because we know for families struggling, that the holidays are difficult because the children are all at home, the children are active, children are hungry understandably. Children at school need to be fed so they can concentrate, and we know that those who are struggling most are families on fixed incomes,” she said, reports RTE.
“What parents are saying is that because they have to wait until they get paid, that they’re not bringing their child to the doctor for what they know is some needed medical attention. The Government is predicting massive surpluses, so it is incumbent on the Government to think of the most vulnerable in society, particularly children, and to think about how we can, as a State, help them,” Ms Connolly said, reports RTE.
Ms Connolly called on the Government to prioritise the needs of children and families who she said “are really struggling in this wealthy country. No parent wants to look at their child and say we’re poor, but actually there are people who are poor in Irish society and we know how wealthy we are,” Ms Connolly said, reports RTE.
“So, one of the things we’re asking the Government to do in this budget is to ensure that social supports and income supports for families are benchmarked against the minimum essential standards of living. We can afford it, we can do it. It would be a disgrace actually not to. The Government has been very proud of the fact that they’ve got an additional needs payment and it is welcome to families. But it’s taking five to six weeks to get an answer and that is five to six weeks of families struggling with basic needs,” reports RTE.
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