The Hot School Meals Programme will be extended to 27 primary schools right across Donegal.
Joe McHugh, TD for Donegal, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic presented everyone with many challenges over the past twelve months, including our schoolchildren here in Donegal and especially those who would previously have come to school each morning without a breakfast.
“The Hot Meals Programme is a major initiative to encourage school attendance when schools are open, when schools are closed and when classes are held virtually.
“This initiative will consequently facilitate better educational outcomes by the schoolchildren and help tackle the issue of education disadvantage.”
The Donegal schools are:
S N Baile An Bhailsig, Welshtown, Ballybofey
Little Angels Special School, Knocknamona, Letterkenny
St Orans N S, Buncrana
S N Loch an Iubhair, Anagaire, Leitir Ceanainn
Killygordan N S, Killygordon, Lifford
Creeslough N S, Creeslough
S N Glasáin, Craoslach, Leitir Ceanainn
Scoil Cuilm Cille, Ballindrait, Lifford
Min A Ghabhann N S, Lettermacaward
SN na Croise Naofa, Dunfanaghy
Scoil Cholmcille, Duibhlin Riabhach, Carraig Airt
Scoil Róisín, An Clochán Liath
Gleneely NS, Gleneely, Killygordon
SN An Leinbh Íosa, Coxtown, Carrigans
S N na Sraithe Móire, Mín a Labain, Leitir Ceanainn
Scoil Naomh Earnan, Baile an tSratha
St. Joseph’s National School, Rathmullan
Scoil Chartha Naofa, Cill Chartha
S N Dhubhthaigh, Anagaire, Leitir Ceanainn
S N Naomh Baoithin, St. Johnston
Scoil Mhuire, Dristernain, Gleneely, Lifford
Scoil Cholmcille, An Tearmann, Leitir Ceanainn
S N Mhuire Milford
Scoil Mhuire Ramelton
Raphoe Central N S, Raphoe
S N An Droim Mor, Dromore, Killygordon
Scoil Naomh Caitriona, Ballyshannon
Deputy McHugh continued: “As part of Budget 2021, my Fine Gael colleague Minister Heather Humphreys provided an additional €5.5 million for the extension of the Hot School Meals with effect from January to 35,000 primary school children who had been availing of the Department’s School Meals Programme which provided cold lunch options only.
“The Department contacted some 700 primary schools currently receiving the cold lunch option under the School Meals Programme in November seeking expressions of interest to avail of the hot school meal.
“Approximately 40% of schools expressed an interest in the programme and 189 schools were selected, including 27 here in Donegal, having regard to geographical spread across all local authority areas, taking into consideration pupil numbers and the overall budget available for the programme in 2021.”
The hot meals will be available to all pupils enrolled in these schools, which do not have canteen/kitchen facilities for preparation of the hot dinners on site.
“The hot meal will replace the cold lunch option that had been in place previously. Each school must identify a supplier who will supply (prepare and deliver) the hot meals in line with HACCP and food safety regulations in compliance with the Healthy Ireland ‘Nutrition Standards for Hot School Meals’.
“Schools will be expected to provide a menu choice of at least two different meals per day plus a Vegetarian/Vegan and an option that caters for students’ religious and cultural dietary requirements.”
McHugh continued: “This funding under the School Meals Programme will continue during the upcoming Easter holidays for primary and second level schools.
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, funding for the School Meals Programme had been confined to the academic year, however the Department of Social Protection has ensured that this support has continued throughout, including during term breaks and school holidays and will be done through the provision of food parcels.
“The funding for the School Meals Programme throughout the entire school terms and holidays offers a security for many vulnerable of schoolchildren by ensuring that participating schools in our County can provide food parcels benefiting pupils during this time.”