The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged children through two schemes. The first is the statutory urban school meals scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by the Department. The second is the school meals local projects schemes through which funding is provided directly to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who run their own school meals projects. The Government has allocated an additional €2 million for the school meals programme in 2013, providing a total allocation of €37 million.
The school meals programme normally operates in line with the academic year, from September to the following June. There are approximately 1,300 schools/groups in the programme for the current academic year benefitting over 191,000 pupils. Priority for funding is given to schools which are part of the Department of Education & Skills’ initiative for disadvantaged schools, ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ (DEIS). The Department has written to approximately 170 DEIS schools requesting expressions of interest in participating in the scheme for the coming school year. To date, some 75 schools have expressed an interest in participating in the scheme.
The Department also contacted a further 11 schools/groups who had already made an application to join the scheme. These schools were invited to participate in the scheme for the remainder of the current school year. One organisation, a School Completion Programme in Bray, Co. Wicklow, accepted and is participating in the scheme during May and June 2013. This programme will provide a food club for children attending St. Fergal’s Senior National School in Ballywaltram, Bray, Co. Wicklow. It is expected that the remaining 10 schools will join the school meals scheme from September 2013.