Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Department of Social Protection
School Meals Programme
136. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the amount of funding allocated to the school meals programme; the number of schools included by county; the criteria used to ensure the food provided is nutritious; the frequency with which she checks that third parties are meeting these criteria; the disciplinary measures in place for third parties who fail to meet these criteria; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41717/15]
The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food services to some 1,700 schools and organisations which benefits approximately 217,000 children at a total cost of €39 million. An additional €3 million was allocated to the programme as part of Budget 2016, bringing the total allocation to €42 million in 2016.
There are two schemes operated under the school meals programme. The first scheme is the urban school meals scheme which is operated by local authorities and part-financed by the Department. The second is the school meals local projects scheme through which funding is provided directly to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who run their own school meals projects. There were over 1,390 schools, preschools and other groups participating in the school meals local projects scheme in the academic year 2014/2015 and a county breakdown is provided in the tabular statement below.
The aim of the scheme is to provide regular nutritious food to children who are unable, by reason of lack of food, to take full advantage of the education provided for them. Applicants to the scheme are directed to the Department’s website which states that funding is for healthy nutritious food only and examples of food items are provided. Applicants are informed that information regarding healthy eating for children is also available from the Health Promotion Unit of the Health Services Executive and in ‘A Good Practice Guide for School Food Initiative’ produced by the organisation Healthy Food for All.
Schools/groups must reapply for funding in advance of each school year and are required to submit detailed records at the end of each school year. Any expenditure on non-food items and unhealthy foods is deducted from the following year’s allocation.
In addition, the Department initiated an inspection programme in 2012 consisting of on-site inspections in participating schools to ensure that the scheme rules are being adhered to. This inspection process will be rolled out to all schools over the next 3 year period and the Department has assigned additional resources to facilitate this work.
Tabular Statement: Breakdown of schools and preschools by county in the school meals local projects scheme
|County||No. of schools & preschools|