The Hot School Meals Programme was announced today by Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys.

Speaking during a visit to St David’s Primary School in Artane, 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.”

The programme comes after a report commissioned by the Department of Social Protection found that hot school meals increase school attendance rates and support families financially.

The report recommended that hot school meals be provided to all DEIS primary schools in the coming academic year, with a phased rollout to all other primary schools by 2030.

If completed, the programme will cater to 260,000 primary school pupils around the country. There are currently about 90,000 pupils benefitting from the Hot School Meals Programme.

Regarding the goal of a full rollout by 2030, Minister Humphreys added: “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.”