More than 7,000 primary school children to receive hot dinners under new initiative
MORE than 7,000 primary school children are to receive hot dinners under a new initiative.
The Hot School Meals Scheme Project will be rolled out from September on a pilot basis and 7,200 children from up to 36 school will receive a hot meal five days a week.
The menu will provide two options per day, there will be vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as meals that suit pupils various religious or cultural dietary requirements.
The initiative is intended to replace the lunch/dinner option for schools already taking part in the School Meals Programme.
The pilot will cost €1.9 million for 2019 and €2.5m for a full school year.
Funding will be provided by the Department of Social Protection to schools to source suppliers and families will not be asked for any extra money towards the meals.
The pilot has already been running at Our Lady of Lourdes National School in Inchicore, Dublin since January.
During this time almost 250 pupils enjoyed meals such as chicken curry with brown rice, penne bolognese and vegan chili and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty says it has been a success.
She said today: “The provision of adequate and nutritious meals for a child’s health, learning, attention and educational achievement is invaluable. Under the Healthy Ireland Framework, the health and wellbeing of children is a priority across Government.
“I believe that the provision of hot food services in schools guarantees on-going positive returns on public investment in the health and educational performance of future generations.
“I would particularly like to thank all the children, Tonya Hanly the principal, the staff, and management at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Inchicore and also the supplier of the meals, for participating in the initial proof of concept with my Department.
“We have learned so much from the children and, thanks to the success of the pilot in Inchicore, we are rolling it out to 36 schools, including Our Lady of Lourdes, next September.”
Her department has said that the pilot in Inchicore has proven that it's possible for schools to provide hot meals even if they don't have kitchen or canteen facilities.
They also said it was a good opportunity to trial menu options, assess portion size and identify challenges in areas such as dietary requirements and food waste.
The Department of Social Protection has written to all primary schools about the scheme and they have until June 12 to apply.
They said in a statement: “In order to be considered for the pilot project a primary school must identify a supplier who will supply (prepare and deliver) the hot meals in line with HACCP and food safety regulations in compliance with the Healthy Ireland ‘Nutrition Standards for School Meals’.
“Each primary school participating in the pilot project will be expected to provide a menu choice of at least two different meals per day plus a Vegetarian/Vegan and an option that caters for students’ religious and cultural dietary requirements. Schools that are interested in participating in the initiative have until 12th June 2019 to apply.”