'Marcus Rashford showed the importance of feeding children': Derry schools welcome money to prevent hunger

A number of Derry schools have received funding aimed to help ensure no pupil goes hungry through poverty.

Last month, The James Kane Foundation agreed to fund a number of school food programmes, an initiative originally launched by the Belfast Charitable Society earlier in December.

With additional funding from the Foundation, a further 16 schools from some of the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland were provided with financial support to help them feed more of their children.

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Almost £100,000 is being provided by The James Kane Foundation to these 16 schools, which in the north west include St Joseph's Boys School, Creggan, St Brigid's College, Carnhill, St Cecilia's College, St Mary’s College and Oakgrove Integrated College.

Derry schools have welcomed the school food programme funding.

Many of the schools have already started to ramp up their food programmes in anticipation of the additional funding.

John Harkin, Acting Principal, Oakgrove Integrated College said: “Oakgrove Integrated College is very grateful to The James Kane Foundation for the money which will support our efforts to feed children. We found the return to school a challenge for many families who struggled to meet the additional costs. Delays in administering the free school meal entitlement meant that we had students to feed who literally could not afford to pay.

"In Covid times, Marcus Rashford showed the country the importance of feeding children, and the sacrifices his mother made for him. This grant has helped us cover the cost of feeding children and so ensure that whatever their circumstances, every child gets a fair chance, and it’s one less worry for anxious parents already stretched.”

Pádraig O’Mianáin, Principal of St Brigid’s said: “St Brigid’s College operates in an area of high social and economic deprivation, we have the highest free school meals number in Northern Ireland. Families of pupils that attend this school are also dealing with the cost of living crisis which means many of them are hungry, disaffected, and lacking in motivation.

"This funding will contribute to many pupils receiving a hot breakfast in the morning and it will encourage attendance through rewards purchased in local businesses. Improved attendance will lead on to greater achievement and help build confidence in our pupils.”

Mr Brendan McGinn, Principal at St Mary’s said: “St Mary's College truly appreciates the kind support of and generous financial donation from The James Kane Foundation. This donation will directly support our financial efforts to ensure every child receives a meal each day. The charity plays a pivotal in supporting schools and their timely intervention is recognised by all concerned. “

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Michael Wilson, Chair of The James Kane Foundation, said: “As a board we felt very strongly that the Foundation should support the initiative led by the Belfast Charitable Society. The Foundation hopes that its contribution will help schools and families amid the cost of living crisis, and enhance the educational experience of the children.”

Since Belfast Charitable Society started this initiative, other funders in addition to The James Kane Foundation have also come on board to support schools with food programmes. This includes Ulster Garden Villages and the ARN fund, amounting to nearly £250,000 of funding.