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A summer food scheme proposed by the Minister for Education, Peter Weir, has been allocated £12 million in the June monitoring round process.

A further £12 million for learning support programmes and summer activities, and £10.5million for childcare was also confirmed by the Finance Minister Conor Murphy today as part of the monitoring allocations.

The summer food scheme will provide help during July and August to families who were eligible for free school meals’ direct payments up to the end of June.

Almost 57,000 families representing over 102,000 children will receive payments of £13.50 per child per week.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “The issue of holiday hunger is a real concern to myself and Executive colleagues. Today’s confirmation that my bid for an additional £12 million funding for the summer food scheme has been approved is very welcome news. These payments will help ensure that those children most in need do not go hungry during the summer months.

“I am also pleased to announce the Education Authority’s ‘Eat Well Live Well’ programme will be extended over July and August to provide for up to 5,000 young people. The programme has been running for a number of months and is currently providing healthy breakfasts and lunches to over 3,000 vulnerable young people.”

Around £12 million has also been approved for an autumn learning support programme and summer activities.

The Minister said: “I am very concerned about the impact that Covid-19 may have had on our pupils in terms of lost learning. That is why I have asked my officials to bring forward the ‘Engage’ programme for both primary and post-pupils, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The details have still to be worked out but it is likely to include support for literacy and numeracy, nurture and emotional health and well-being.

“In addition, my Department will provide some funding to support those primary schools which are able to run summer schools, on a voluntary basis, with a focus on supporting children with their learning.

“Finally, I also intend to help schools purchase online resources which may help address the needs of pupils entering P7 as they return to school.”

Of the £10.5million allocated for childcare, the Minister added: “In recognition of the vital contribution that the childcare sector makes to the economy, I welcome the additional funding being made available to support the ongoing recovery.

“This will enable more parents to access the childcare they need. The Childcare Recovery Scheme will be launched in July.