Tasty pilot programme for primary school children

By Mary Dennehy

SCHOOLS will be contacted in the coming weeks about participating in a tasty pilot programme, which will see primary school kids being served up a hot meal at lunchtime.

The Hot School Meals schemes was launched earlier this month in Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Inchicore, where pupils will road-test the idea before an extended pilot project is rolled out in September with 36 schools nationwide.

HotSchoolMeals1

Schools will be contacted in the coming weeks about participating in a tasty pilot programme

Almost 250 pupils in the Inchicore-based school are receiving a hot meal at lunch time each day, with a sample weekly menu including chicken curry and brown rice, penne Bolognese, vegiballs and potato, vegan chilli and fish bites and wedges.

As part of Budget 2019, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD, announced that hot dinners will be provided on a pilot basis to up to 36 schools from September of this year.

Some 7,200 children are expected to take part in this September’s extended pilot programme, which will cost €2.5m for the 2019/2020 school year.

The pilot will initially target primary schools which do not currently avail of the dinner option under the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s School Meals Programme, and do not have canteen/kitchen facilities for preparation of hot dinners on site.

According to Minister Doherty: “Funding the provision of food services in schools guarantees on-going positive returns on public investment in the health and educational performance of future generations.

“I would like to thank the management of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School for participating in this initial pilot project with my Department during the rest of this school year. 

“It will help us to review all aspects of the scheme and to refine it before we roll it out to other schools next September.”

If the pilot is successful, Minister Doherty said that she hopes to work with the Department of Education and Skills in extending the scheme to additional schools in future years, establishing the scheme on a permanent basis.

Minister of State, Catherine Byrne, who was present at the launch in Inchicore, said: “Research shows us the value of the provision of adequate and nutritious meals for a child’s health, learning, attention and educational achievement.

“Under the Healthy Ireland Framework, the health and wellbeing of children is a priority across Government.”

She added; “I would like to commend Tonya Hanley, the School Principal, and her dedicated staff in Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School for facilitating this pilot.”

The Department will be contacting primary schools in the coming weeks seeking expressions of interest to participate in the extended pilot programme from September.

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