Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Department of Social Protection
School Meals Programme
133. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the number of on-site inspections conducted to ensure that schools participating in the school meals programme are delivering nutritional and healthy food, the number of schools in breach of the guidelines on healthy meals, the sanctions imposed, by county, for each year since 2012 to date, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43992/15]
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.
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. A breakdown of on-site inspections by county since 2012 is provided in the attached tabular statement.
Some 246 schools and organisations have been examined and finalised to date under inspection programme since 2012. The results show a relatively high rate of compliance by funded organisations / schools with the conditions of the scheme. 208 schools (85%) were found to be operating satisfactorily. In 31 schools, (13%), less serious issues such as non-compliance with scheme rules or errors involving minor amounts were discovered; and serious issues were identified in two schools. These serious issues have been reported to An Garda Síochána.
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.
Overpayments are raised as appropriate and agreed recovery arrangements are in place with schools. These arrangements are being monitored and are being adhered to. There is a balance to be maintained by the Department in terms of restricting payments to schools while continuing to provide for a service for the children therein.
A further 143 schools and organisations were examined in 2015. While analysis of the returned reports is ongoing, indications are that the results will be similar to previous years.
Tabular Statement: Breakdown of inspections by county in the school meals local projects scheme
|-||No. of on-site inspections||No. of on-site inspections||No. of on-site inspections||No. of on-site inspections|