Pupils in 36 primary schools to receive hot meals next month as part of project

More than 6,600 pupils in 36 primary schools will receive a hot meal at lunchtime next month.

Pupils in 36 primary schools to receive hot meals next month as part of project

More than 6,600 pupils in 36 primary schools will receive a hot meal at lunchtime next month.

Families will not be asked for additional contributions towards the meals and there will be vegetarian and vegan options.

Four Cork schools are included in the Hot School Meals Pilot Project - Scoil Mhuire Agus Eoin, Mayfield; Clogheen Mixed National School, Kerry Pike; Scoil Naisiunta Bun An Tsabhairne, Crosshaven; and Scoil Na mBraithre, Mitchelstown.

Other Munster-based schools selected are Scoil Mhuire, Brosna, Co Kerry, St John's Convent, Cathedral Place, Limerick, Scoil Na Mbraithre, Nenagh, Co Tipperary and Scoil Choill Mhic Thomaisin, Kilmacthomas, Waterford.

A similar hot meals' project at Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Inchicore, Dublin, has been running since the start of the year, with more than 250 pupils receiving the lunchtime hot meal.

The school will continue in the scheme along with the 36 new schools that have been selected for the pilot project that will cost €1m for 2019 and €2.5m in a full year.

Principal, Tonya Hanley, said the food arrives from their supplier just after midday and sixth class pupils help teachers to distribute the meals.

Ms Hanley, who was speaking on RTÉ radio, said the hot meal provision is “low maintenance” and the children have great energy in the afternoon:

There are a small proportion of children who might not otherwise get a hot meal during the day. There is a certain amount of food poverty in our community.

More than 500 schools applied to be included in the scheme that will be reviewed at the end of the next school year.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, said that a mixture of urban and rural and DEIS and non-DEIS schools are included in the scheme: "I don't want to have a stigma associated with what is a very positive move. I want all our children to be treated equally."

Around 250,000 children benefitted from the €57.6m in funding provided last year to around 1,580 schools and organisations under the School Meals Programme.

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