Almost 11,000 vulnerable children are missing out on meals each day — because schools have refused to join a State-funded scheme.

The School Meals Programme aims to provide regular nutritious food, mainly through breakfast clubs and lunches, to children who otherwise might not get a meal during the school day.

However, the Department of Social Protection expects that €8m of the total allocation for the scheme will not be spent this year, and have cited the fact that 71 invited schools have failed to join the programme as part of the reason.

The Irish Examiner is reporting that one school in Co Mayo has not availed of €136,598 to feed the 408 pupils attending.

A total of 12 qualifying schools in both Co Donegal and Co Galway are not providing the scheme.

A further 11 across Cork and seven eligible schools in Co Tipperary have not availed of funding.

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