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. The programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement.
According to information contained on the Department of Educations and Skills website there are 3,240 primary schools and 722 secondary schools with a combined enrolment of 930,671 students (567,772 in primary schools and 362,899 in secondary schools). If a breakfast/snack at 60c per child, per day, and a lunch at €1.40 per child, per day, to all students in these schools, it would cost approximately €324m (€204m for primary schools and €120m for secondary schools) for a full school year.