School Holiday Food Grant Scheme must be extended to prevent holiday hunger, says Egan

The school holiday food grant scheme for pupils must be extended to prevent holiday hunger, Alliance Education spokesperson Connie Egan MLA has said.

Education Connie Egan

The North Down MLA was speaking after receiving a letter from the Department of Education, which stated due to budgetary pressures, the Department was ‘considering the issue’ of the School Holiday Food Grant Scheme, which provides a grant to over 100,000 families here in place of free school meals over holiday periods.


The previous Education Minister only secured the scheme until March 2023, with Ms Egan saying it had proved to be a lifeline for many thousands of families across Northern Ireland.


For many children, their school dinner is the only hot meal they eat that day and the need for it does not end when holidays begin,” she said.


Provision of free school means is not just about food, but plays a key role in tackling underachievement and giving our children the best possible start to life. The current cost of living crisis has only served to reinforce the value of this scheme. We must not allow our children to go hungry over the holidays during a period of financial hardship.


I strongly urge the Department to urgently commit to funding the School Holiday Food Grant Scheme for the next financial year at a minimum. However, we also urgently need to see the restoration of our Assembly and Executive in order to tackle this issue in a long-term, sustainable fashion.


Alliance has long campaigned for the eradication of holiday hunger. It is essential these payments are continued and incorporated into the Department’s provision of free school meals.”