The school meals scheme is set to continue from next week despite all schools remaining closed as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the Government has confirmed.
The programme funds food services for disadvantaged school children across the country.
More than 1,500 schools and organisations take part in the programme.
However, serious concerns had been raised about how it would be able to operate while all schools remain closed until at least April 19th - with the Taoiseach having warned that the closures could continue until May.
The Department of Education has today announced that funding for the scheme will continue.
Schools have also been given updated guidance to allow them continue to operate the programme despite the ongoing restrictions.
Officials say that it will help ensure "nutritious food gets to many thousands of young people who need it the most".
In a statement, the Department said: "Schools are allowed to maintain the service during the Easter holidays and are asked to consider providing weekly boxes of non-perishable, nutritious goods.
"Tusla Education Support Service will communicate with all Home School Community Liaison Coordinators and School Completion Programmes and ask staff in those services to liaise with principals where they work to ensure that children/families in need of the School Meals Programme are identified and supported."
Schools have also been told they can look at other options - such as a local charity or an alternative supplier or retailer - if their current supplier can't continue operating at the moment.
INTO General Secretary John Boyle welcomed the announcement as a "practical solution" to the problem.
He said: "[It will] help to provide some much-needed certainty for our most vulnerable pupils.
"Our members are deeply concerned about the plight of these pupils and their families at this time."
Freshtoday, one of the school meal providers, says it is preparing for the delivery of emergency provisions.
They say children availing of the meals scheme "will be entitled to a weekly provision of groceries, delivered to their school for collection".