Pupils at primary schools in Ireland will be getting at least one free hot meal a day with the expansion of the Hot School Meals Programme.
All DEIS schools in the country will be included in the programme from next September onwards, it was announced this week.
The programme will be rolled out in phased basis to all non-DEIS schools starting from 2024, with expressions of interest to be published shortly.
Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys made the announcement this week with the publication of an independent evaluation of the School Meals Programme.
“Providing nutritious meals to our children at school is about so much more than food. It helps a child make the most of their education and their childhood,” Minister Humphreys said.
“It does wonders for our children’s wellbeing, their concentration and their physical and mental health. We know this because we have gone out to schools and asked the children about the difference it makes.”
“We also know from talking to parents and teachers that a hot meal in the middle of the day holds its weight in gold.”
The report recommended that a universal school meals programme should be in place by 2030, but Minister Humphreys said that “my ambition is to move faster”.
“My ambition is that a child born in Ireland today will be guaranteed access to a Hot Meal by the time they start school.”
Minister Humphreys also today announced an increase in School Meal Rates, which will be backdated to the start of the year.
- Breakfast – increase from €0.60 to €0.75 (15c increase).
- Cold Lunch – increase from €1.40 to €1.70 (30c increase).
- Dinner – increase from €1.90 to €2.50 (60c increase).
- Hot School Meal – increase from €2.90 to €3.20 (30c increase).