A new policy to give every schoolchild at least one hot meal a day has been launched by the Green Party.
If implemented, it would see every schoolchild in the country offered at least one meal during the school day.
The policy, supported by Michelin Star restaurateur Kevin Thornton, would cost in the region of €350m a year to implement.
It is aimed at tackling the dual problems of child obesity and food poverty and to end the situation where one in five children go to school hungry every day.
Funding of the programme would come from “tax revenues, other sources of revenue, and a small contribution from all parents not in receipt of State benefits”, while a statutory obligation would be placed on local authorities to provide a school dinner scheme in their area.
The Green Party also said that the school day may need to be lengthened to give children enough time to have a proper “sit-down” meal and time to relax and play afterwards.
Food would be prepared daily using fresh local produce and include vegetarian and vegan options, as well as foods from different ethnic cultures. The menus would be “well-balanced and sensitive to the traditions of different cultures and their proscriptions on certain foods, such as pork and beef”.
Deputy leader of the Green Party Cllr Catherine Martin said the policy was not just ambitious and realistic but also something that should be aspired to.
“The Green Party’s school dinners policy received a fantastic reception when we sought feedback from teachers, headmasters, and parents alike. It’s strongly modelled on the Finnish system, which is consistently ranked as the best education system in the world. It’s unacceptable that 20% of our children are going to school hungry,” she said.
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