A new pilot scheme will provide meals, including hot meals, for children in early learning and childcare settings.
The €150,000 pilot scheme was announced by Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman this week, with money coming from the Dormant Accounts Fund.
As well as funding, pilot settings will have the assistance of a dietician to support the selection of the meal options.
The three meal options in the pilot scheme will be:
- breakfast or snack
- breakfast or snack, plus a packed lunch for children to take home
- hot meal or snack
Minister O’Gorman said, “Early learning and childcare services work very hard every day to support children experiencing disadvantage.
He added that they are, “uniquely placed to ensure these children can access nutritious meals and snacks – which is so important for children’s health, learning and development.”
“Already, as required by regulation, children attending these services on a full-time basis are provided with two meals, one hot, and two snacks throughout the day. This covers a significant proportion of their daily food intake – as much as 70 percent.”
“For children attending these services for shorter periods however, the provision of food is far more limited,” the Minster said.
“Under this scheme, a range of meal options, including a hot meal, will be piloted among this cohort.”
The results of the pilot scheme will inform decisions about wider roll out as well as work ongoing in the department to develop a DEIS-type model for early learning and childcare.
Anna Shakespeare, CEO of Pobal said “Pobal is delighted to partner the department on this important initiative given the impact this intervention will have on children experiencing disadvantage.”