I propose to take Questions Nos. 1424 and 1425 together.
As part of Budget 2019, it was announced that DEASP would commence a pilot scheme from September 2019, providing Hot School Meals in 36 primary schools for an estimated 7,200 children at a cost of €1m for 2019 and €2.5m in 2020.
Eligible schools will be issued with an invitation to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot. Schools will be selected having regard to geographical spread, numbers enrolled, range of suppliers and the overall budget available for the pilot in 2019 and 2020 (€1m and €2.5 respectively).
Schools will identify a supplier who will supply, prepare and deliver the hot meals in line with HACCP and food safety regulations in compliance with the Healthy Ireland nutrition standards for school meals. The practical details of the delivery and service of the meals will be worked out on an individual basis during meetings between each school, their supplier and officials from my Department.
A report will not issue until the pilot is complete and the outcomes evaluated. As outcomes will be largely driven by a differential analysis of educational outcomes in pilot versus non-pilot schools, it is my intention that the Department of Education and Skills and the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service will be involved in establishing an evaluation framework and timeframe. This will be established prior to the pilot commencing so that outcomes can be tracked and measured throughout the duration of the pilot.