Northern Ireland news

Free school meal payments to be extended

Payments will be made to families of children entitled to free school meals

FREE school meal payments are to be extended for the entire prolonged half-term holiday.

It had already been agreed that direct payments would be made to families of pupils in receipt of FSM this week.

While children usually do not receive lunches over holiday periods, the executive has agreed to cover the extra costs.

Sinn Féin junior minister Declan Kearney said the executive understood the economic hardship many people were facing.

He said ministers would aim to ensure that every possible support was available to them throughout this difficult period.

"The executive has agreed that payments will be paid to parents of children entitled to free school meals, covering the period of two weeks over the extended half term break," he said.

"I am pleased our ministers have also agreed to take forward a program to tackle child poverty and holiday poverty in the long term."

All schools are closed for two weeks and are due to reopen again on November 2.

In Britain, a Labour motion to offer FSM during holidays until Easter 2021 was defeated this week.

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