Thursday, 30 May 2019

Questions (34)

Pat Deering


34. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of the hot school meals scheme pilot project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23046/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,580 schools and organisations benefitting 250,000 children at a total cost of €57.6 million in 2019 representing an increase of €3.6 million over the previous year.  The objective of the scheme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children who are unable, due to lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided to them. 

As part of Budget 2019, it was announced that my Department 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. 

All 3,239 primary schools have been issued with an invitation to submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot. 

Schools that are interested in participating in the pilot are in the process of identifying a supplier capable of supplying, preparing and delivering hot meals in line with HACCP and food safety regulations in compliance with the Healthy Ireland nutrition standards for school meals.  Expressions of interest will be accepted from schools up to the closing date: Wednesday 12 June 2019.

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).  All expressions of interest received will be considered and 36 schools will be selected to participate in the pilot.  All schools who submit an expression of interest to participate in the pilot will be contacted by the end of June 2019.