Taoiseach extends hot school meals programme to 900 more primary schools across Ireland

Taoiseach extends hot school meals programme to 900 more primary schools across Ireland

THE Irish Government has extended a programme providing children with a hot meal during the school day to 900 new locations this week.

New Taoiseach Simon Harris launched the rollout yesterday, stating the move meant 150,000 more children would now benefit from the programme which first launched in 2019.

Taoiseach Simon Harris with Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys make the announcement

“I am so proud of this programme,” he said.

“It is one of the things that is mentioned to me most as I visit communities across the country.”

He explained: “We launched Hot School Meals as a pilot five years ago and it has seen huge demand ever since.

“Today’s expansion to an additional 150,000 children means that over 316,000 children can now receive a nutritious, hot meal during their school day.

“As Taoiseach I have promised to focus on delivery of our pledges to help families and today’s announcement is just one of the ways I am planning to do this.”

Mr Harris confirmed the details of the extension during a visit to St. Thomas Junior National School in Lucan, Dublin with Ireland’s Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys.

The announcement on the rollout of the Hot School Meals Programme was made at St Thomas' Junior National School in Lucan, Dublin

“I am delighted to announce today that an additional 900 Primary Schools have been approved for the Hot School Meals Programme, many of which have already started getting their hot meals,” Ms Humphries said.

“When I was appointed Minister for Social Protection in June 2020, there were 30 schools receiving hot meals.

“This announcement means that from today there are over 2,000 primary schools able to benefit from hot school meals."

She added: "Every school that submitted an Expression of Interest has been brought onto the scheme.

“However, as news of the positive experience has spread, some schools who had not signed up previously are now interested in coming on board.

"I delighted to hear this, so I am opening a new round of Expressions of Interest to allow us to bring hot school meals to these schools.

“My ambition is that every primary school child in the country will be receiving a hot meal in 2025.

“This is well ahead of our original target to make hot school meals universal in primary schools by 2030.”

Minister Humphries’ Department of Social Protection provides the funding to schools for the School Meals Programme.

Each school then choose their meals supplier “in an open, fair and transparent manner in accordance with national legislation and EU directives on procurement,” the Department confirmed.

All primary schools in Ireland who are not yet on the programme have been invited to submit an Expression of Interest to start receiving hot school meals.