Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Questions (124)

Nicky McFadden


124. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of schools nationally operating the school meals programme; the number of those schools that are in counties Longford and Westmeath; the way the school meals programme is administered; if it will be extended in order to ensure children receive the necessary nutrition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42610/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

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.

A total of some 1,000 schools/organisations received funding under the school meals local projects for the school year 2012/13. Of these, 15 were based in county Longford and 20 in county Westmeath. In addition, approximately 305 schools participated in the urban school meals scheme operated by local authorities, none of which were located in counties Longford and Westmeath. The Department is currently processing applications from schools participating in the scheme for the current school year.

The scheme operates on a school year basis and all schools must apply for funding on an annual basis. Maximum rates of payment apply, based on a rate per child per day, depending on the type of meal being provided. Details of the various options available under the scheme and the maximum rates of payment per child are shown in the tabular statement.

Priority for funding under the school meals local projects is given to schools which are part of the Department of Education and Skills’ initiative for disadvantaged schools, ‘Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools’ (DEIS).

Funding under the scheme is for food costs only, subject to certain conditions. All food must be of suitable quality and nutritional value, and prepared and consumed in an appropriate environment. The type and range of meals provided, as well as the method and logistics of supplying the meals, are decided by the individual local groups and schools that operate the projects. Responsibility for all aspects of the day-to-day operation of the scheme lies with the school/organisation.

The additional €2 million allocated to the school meals programme budget for 2013 is being used to extend the school meals local projects scheme to DEIS and special schools. The Department contacted approximately 170 schools requesting expressions of interest in participating in the scheme for the current school year. Expressions of interest in joining the scheme were received from approximately 90 schools. To date, applications from an additional 32 schools, 1 of which is located in Co Westmeath, have been processed and further applications will be processed as schools establish their food clubs.

Any further extension to the school meals programme can only be considered in a budgetary context.

Various food options and maximum payment per child:






Cereal, Toast, Scone, Fruit, Yogurt, Milk, Juice-2 Items must be provided



Filled Sandwich/Roll or Soup & Roll or

Salad Plate, plus 2 other items (eg Milk, Juice, Fruit, Yogurt)



Meat, Potatoes & Vegetables or Chicken

Curry or Spaghetti Bolognaise, plus a drink (Milk, Juice, Water)