Two Longford schools to benefit from extended Hot School Meals Programme
The Hot School Meals Programme has been extended to two primary schools in Longford.
Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, launched the Hot School Meals Programme 2021, which will benefit some 35,000 pupils in 189 primary schools, inlcuding Gaelscoil Longfoirt and Sacred Heart NS, Granard.
As part of Budget 2021, Minister Humphreys secured an additional €5.5 million for the extension of the Hot School Meals Programme to primary school pupils who had been availing of the cold lunch only.
Following expressions of interest and a selection process, 189 schools, including 171 DEIS schools, have been chosen.
The hot meals will be available to all pupils enrolled in the 189 primary schools, which do not have canteen/kitchen facilities on site.
The hot meal will replace the cold lunch which has been in place to date.
Each school must identify a supplier who will supply (prepare and deliver) the hot meals in line with the relevant food safety regulations and in compliance with the Healthy Ireland ‘Nutrition Standards for Hot School Meals’.
Schools will be expected to provide a menu choice of at least two different meals per day plus a vegetarian/vegan option, as well as an option that caters for pupils’ religious and cultural dietary requirements.
The process of selecting the schools reflects a geographical spread across all local authority areas, taking into consideration pupil numbers, the level of interest and the available budget.
The Hot School Meals Programme is part of the overall School Meals Programme, which provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,557 schools and organisations benefitting 227,000 children.
In formally launching the scheme, Minister Humphreys said:
“Our school children have shown extraordinary resilience over the past 12 months amid huge disruption caused to their lives by Covid-19.
“The Hot School Meals Programme is an important initiative in terms of a child’s wellbeing and nutrition. It is also known to facilitate better education outcomes.
“When the scheme was initially launched as a pilot, it was availed of by 6,600 children in 37 schools.
“From today, the Hot School Meals Programme will support 35,000 children in 189 schools in every city and county in the country.
“I wish to thank the schools involved in the project and acknowledge their ongoing cooperation with the Department to ensure its delivery.”
Minister Humphreys also announced that funding under the School Meals Programme will continue during the upcoming Easter holidays for primary and second level schools.
She continued: “Before the Pandemic, funding for the School Meals Programme had been confined to the academic year.
“However in response to Covid, my Department has ensured that this vital support has continued throughout, regardless of whether schools were open or not.
“I want to reassure schools and parents that funding for the Programme will continue during the upcoming Easter break from 29th March to 9th April.
“Ensuring funding for the School Meals Programme - across both the school terms and holiday periods - offers a security for children who rely on this important support.”