The Hot School Meals Programme will be extended to eleven primary schools in Cork under an extension of the programme.
As part of Budget 2021, Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys secured an additional €5.5m 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 11 in Cork, have been chosen.
St Brendan’s Girls NS, St Mark's School, Scoil Mhuire Fatima, Scoil Aiséirí Chríost, Sunday’s Well GNS, Gaelscoil Mhachan, Sunday’s Well BNS, Scoil Padre Pio, Gaelscoil An Teaghlaigh Naofa, Glasheen Boys NS and St Matthias NS are the Cork schools to benefit.
Welcoming the news today, Cork North Central TD Colm Burke said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic presented everyone with many challenges over the past 12 months, including our schoolchildren here in Cork and especially those who would previously have come to school each morning without a breakfast.
“The Hot Meals Programme is a major initiative to encourage school attendance when schools are open, when schools are closed and when classes are held virtually.
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.
🚨 Hot School Meals 🚨— Heather Humphreys (@HHumphreysFG) March 25, 2021
✅Programme extended to record 35,000 children in 189 primary schools
✅Funding for school meals to remain in place over Easter Break.@welfare_ie @merrionstreet pic.twitter.com/eLsWXbeXMH
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 Department of Social Protection says 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.
Minister Humphreys also announced that funding under the School Meals Programme will continue during the upcoming Easter holidays for primary and second level schools.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, funding for the School Meals Programme had been confined to the academic year.
“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,” Minister Humphreys said.
“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.”