SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has welcomed £12.6m funding to provide payments to families of children who receive free school meals during the summer holidays.
Mr McCrossan has campaigned for the extension of payments to ensure that children do not go hungry this summer.
More than 100,000 children and young people will benefit as a result of the payment, with families receiving £13.50 per week for each child who qualifies.
West Tyrone MLA Mr McCrossan said:
“I am glad that after months of campaigning we have now received confirmation that families of children who qualify for free school meals will receive this payment through the summer. It’s deeply disappointing that parents were waiting until the last minute on this funding, causing significant anxiety and concern at what is already a very difficult time.
“This money will provide an important lifeline to families over the next few months, for many it will be the difference between being comfortably able to feed their child and having to endure stress and cutbacks elsewhere to make sure that their children can eat. While it will help, this cannot be the end of support for struggling families. As part of our Cost of Living Action Plan, the SDLP wants to see every qualifying family receive these payments for the rest of the year at a minimum.
“If we are going to deal with the long-term challenges around food poverty and the cost of living crisis then we need a functioning Assembly and Executive. DUP Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has provided this funding for the summer, but there are no guarantees after that due to her party’s continued boycott of our institutions. Nobody should be forced to go hungry and the DUP need to get back to work so we can unlock the funding at Stormont and get support to people who desperately need it.”