Hot meals project brought to 36 primary schools nationwide

By Mary Dennehy

ST THOMAS’ SNS in Jobstown has been included in a hot school meals pilot project, which starts this September.

After an initial run in Our Lady of Lourdes National School in Inchicore, the pilot project is being introduced to 36 primary schools nationwide – including St Thomas’ SNS in the South Dublin County Council area.

HotSchoolMeals3

Minister Regina Doherty TD (back left) and TD Catherine Byrne, Minister of State at the Dept of Health, with Arianne, Julia, and Ellie at Our Lady’s of Lourdes NS in Inchicore 

The 36 schools selected for the pilot includes a variety of school sizes and a mixture of urban and rural and DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) and non-DEIS schools.

Funding will be provided to schools to source suppliers, and families will not be asked for additional contributions towards the meals.

Each primary school participating in the pilot project will be expected to provide a menu choice of at least two different meals per day plus a vegetarian/vegan option, and an options that caters for students’ religious and cultural dietary requirements.

The pilot project will build on the experience of the proof-of-concept project which has been running at Our Lady of Lourdes since the beginning of the year.

During this initial trial, almost 250 pupils received a hot meal at lunchtime each day.

According to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty: “A hot school meal is not just about nutrition, but it also guarantees a better education.

“The research out there shows us that children who benefit from a daily nutritious hot dinner have greater focus and better learning outcomes.

“I would like to thank all the schools who applied for the pilot – we had an enthusiastic response.

“I am delighted to be extending this pilot to the 36 schools . . . they represent a good cross-sample of schools and I look forward to the insights we gather from their experiences.”

The pilot scheme for hot school dinners was announced by Minister Doherty during Budget 2019, when she said that the initiative would be trialled in schools from this September.

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