The Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced that she is seeking expressions of interest from all Primary Schools across Ireland interested in participating in the Hot School Meals Programme.
The Minister’s Department has written to every primary school in the country, as part of significant plans to extend the Hot School Meals to all children in the coming years.
The Hot School Meals Programme was introduced in 2019 and has grown significantly from a small pilot of 30 schools to a programme providing nutritious hot meals to almost 500 primary schools.
It is currently benefiting more than 90,000 children. These numbers will increase dramatically with the roll out of Hot Meals to all remaining DEIS primary schools and Special schools in September 2023.
Minister Humphreys has confirmed that all remaining primary schools have been contacted and have been asked to submit an expression of interest form if their school is interested in commencing the provision of hot school meals.
The responses received will help to inform a policy for the future expansion of the programme on a phased basis.
Commenting on the programme, Minister Humphreys said, “the Hot School Meals programme was introduced in 2019 and has grown significantly from a small pilot of 30 schools to a programme providing nutritious hot meals to almost 500 primary schools, benefiting more than 90,000 children. These numbers will increase dramatically with the roll out of hot meals to all remaining DEIS primary schools and special schools in September 2023.”
“The expansion of the programme to all DEIS primary schools and special schools will mean by the end of this year, 1,000 schools will have access to hot school meal funding – that is real progress. From 2024, we will start the roll-out of Hot Meals to all remaining primary schools. This will be done on a phased basis. The report recommends universal provision by 2030 but my ambition is to move faster. Given we have already expanded from 30 to 1,000 schools in just over two and a half years, I believe we can reach all primary schools sooner than that. I’m encouraging all primary schools to apply – and I’m really looking forward to a big uptake. Because the benefits for our children are huge.”
The School Meals Programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,600 schools and organisations benefitting 260,000 children at present. It provides regular, nutritious food to children who may be unable, due to lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided to them. The Programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement.
Primary schools, not currently involved in the programme, have been contacted requesting that they complete an expression of interest form if their school is interested in providing hot school meals. The responses received will help to inform a policy for the future expansion of the programme on a phased basis.
Expressions of interest should be submitted by email to EOISchoolMeals@welfare.ie by the 19th of May. Applications from DEIS Schools should be made through gov.ie – School Meals Scheme. Forms for the 2023/2024 academic year will be available to download at the end of May 2023.