How the scheme works
The School Meals Scheme provides meals to about 60,000 pupils in almost 400 schools across the country. It costs in the region of €2.5m annually.
The Department of Social Protection has responsibility for the scheme and oversees it in conjunction with local authorities.
A total of 34 out of 85 eligible local authorities operate the scheme. The cost of the food is split evenly between the department and the local authorities.
Initially set up almost 100 years ago to assist children who were "unable by reason of lack of food to take full advantage of the education being provided for them", there are no consistent eligibility criteria.
Eligibility is primarily a matter for the local authority, and, in general, the department approves all applications submitted to local authorities, once the school is also approved by the department.