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Education Minister Peter Weir has welcomed the Executive’s decision to extend Free School Meal payments to cover the Halloween break.

The Executive decided that support was vital for families struggling financially due to Covid19.

Welcoming the Executive’s decision the Minister said “I welcome the decision taken by the Executive today to extend this vital support over the Halloween break for families struggling financially due to Covid19.

“This announcement complements my earlier decision to make payments in lieu of free school meals for those children who couldn’t be in school this week as schools were closed.

“It is important that children who normally receive a free school meal can still have access to a nutritious meal without their family suffering further hardship during what is an already stressful and difficult time.

“This is a very worrying time for families particularly those with school age children and these payments will help to support them during this time when they would normally be in school.”

The Department has also announced that direct payments in lieu of free school meals will be issued from tomorrow to cover the period 19th October to 23rd October. These payments will make up for the loss of a nutritious school meal that children would have received had schools been open this week. Payment to cover the Halloween break will be issued separately.

Both payments will be made by the Education Authority and the first payments should reach bank accounts early next week.