DUP minister encourages parents to apply for free school meals

DUP education minister Peter Weir
DUP education minister Peter Weir

The DUP education minister has reminded eligible parents to apply for their children to get free school meals.

The DUP education minister has reminded eligible parents to apply for their children to get free school meals.

Ahead of the start of the new school year, Peter Weir issued a statement stressing the importance of good nutrition in schools.

Children qualify if one or both parents receive benefits including Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit, or if they get support under the Immigration and Asylum Act.

This also applies to carers or guardians.

The Minister said: “One of my department’s aims is to raise standards in education and the importance of a healthy school meal in achieving this should not be underestimated.

“There is a recognised connection between healthy eating and improved learning and a nutritious school meal contributes to a young person’s growth and development...

“Eating a nutritious school meal can improve a child’s concentration, behaviour and their ability to learn in class. This ultimately leads to better educational outcomes.”

In the year 2015/16, 101,063 pupils were eligible for free meals, said the department. Of these, 81 per cent (82,002) availed of them.

To learn more, see: www.nidirect.gov.uk/nutrition-and-school-lunches