As part of Budget 2019, I 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 €2.5 m 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 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).
Expanding the scheme beyond the current pilot would have to be considered as part of budget negotiations. Furthermore, proposals to extend the pilot will be contingent on an evaluation of pilot outcomes. To the extent that these will be largely driven by a differential analysis of educational outcomes in pilot vs non-pilot schools the Department of Education and Skills and the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service (IGEES) will need to be involved in establishing an evaluation framework and timeframe.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.