Green Party hopes to put free meals on the menu
Free or subsidised hot meals for our schoolchildren could be on the cards if the Green Party gets its way.
The new plan would cost the State up to €350m to run annually and would see canteens built in every primary and secondary school in the country over the next five years.
The policy, which is supported by Michelin Star restaurateur Kevin Thornton, aims to give "at least one hot nutritious meal" to children every day.
Party leader Eamon Ryan said part of the scheme would focus on food education in order to reduce obesity and diabetes.
The economic benefit would far outweigh the cost, as farmers would be given large quotas of what crops to produce in accordance with the school meal plan, according to Seamus Sheridan, Green Party spokesman for Food and Agriculture.
"If you were to put corn on the cob on the menu for six weeks, that would see us grow about six million of them. That is a huge stimulus to farmers," he said.
The fact that 160,000 of our school children went into the classroom hungry was unacceptable, Mr Ryan added.
DEIS school pupils would receive free meals, while children in other schools would pay a subsidised fee of €2-€3.50.