School Meals Programme

School Meals Programme

Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh has warmly welcomed Min. Heather Humphreys’ plans to expand the School Meals Programme to all schools by 2030 at the latest. The announcement came as the Minister published an independent evaluation of the School Meals Programme which sets out the positive impact the Programme is having in terms of children’s education and wellbeing.

Dep. Ó Cathasaigh, who was a primary school teacher prior to his election in 2020, has long advocated for the expansion of the school meals programme:

‘Providing a good meal to children in school has been Green Party policy since the time of Trevor Sargent, one I’ve argued for at every opportunity. It can benefit every child across the state, but it’s most positive effects will of course be felt by children who mightn’t otherwise get a nutritious meal during the course of the day for whatever reason. And it will be welcome reprieve too for parents across the country who have to face the morning lunch box amongst all the other stresses of getting the kids out the door to school.’

The Tramore TD argues that proper investment in the programme can have real benefits inside and outside the school gates.

‘I have said Min. Humphreys before now that we shouldn’t fall into the trap of being penny-wise and pound-foolish here. We should make sure the subvention of these meals is enough to make sure that our children are getting fresh, nutritious and locally-produced food on their plates, making sure that there’s a benefit both to our kids and to local producers and the wider local economy.’

Speaking during a visit to St David’s Primary School in Artane, Co. Dublin, Minister Humphreys said:

‘Providing nutritious meals to our children at school is about so much more than food. It helps a child make the most of their education and their childhood.

It does wonders for our children’s wellbeing, their concentration and their physical and mental health. We know this because we have gone out to schools and asked the children about the difference it makes.

We also know from talking to parents and teachers that a hot meal in the middle of the day holds its weight in gold’


Minister Humphries continued:

“When I was appointed Minister for Social Protection in June 2020, there were 30 schools receiving Hot Meals. Today there are almost 500 schools benefitting from the hot meals programme.

The expansion of the programme to all DEIS primary schools and special schools will mean by the end of this year, 1,000 schools will be receiving hot meals – that is real progress.

From 2024, we will start the roll-out of Hot Meals to all remaining primary schools. This will be done on a phased basis. The report recommends universal provision by 2030 but my ambition is to move faster.

Given we have already expanded from 30 to 1,000 schools in just over two and a half years, I believe we can reach all primary schools sooner than that.

In the coming weeks, my Department will invite expressions of interests from all remaining primary schools countrywide.

My ambition is that a child born in Ireland today will be guaranteed access to a Hot Meal by the time they start school.”