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Minister Humphreys announces extension of Hot School Meals Programme

  • 81 additional DEIS schools invited to join programme
  • €3 million investment to benefit up to 16,000 primary school pupils
  • Expansion to bring total number of pupils receiving hot meal to over 55,000

Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced an extension of the Hot Schools Meals Programme, which will benefit up to 16,000 additional primary school pupils.

The €3 million investment will see 81 DEIS schools invited to join the programme from January 2022.

The schools being invited to participate are currently availing of the cold lunch option under the School Meals Programme.

Today’s announcement will enable an additional 16,000 primary school pupils to receive a hot, nutritious meal every school day, and will bring the total number of pupils benefitting to 55,650. 


Making today’s announcement, Minister Humphreys said:

“I am really pleased today to announce an extension of the Hot School Meals Programme to 81 DEIS schools across the country.

“This €3 million investment, which I secured as part of the Budget, means we can significantly expand the programme to benefit up to 16,000 primary school pupils who were previously availing of the cold lunch option.

“Receiving a hot meal in the middle of the day is so important for nutrition but also for a child’s mental and physical wellbeing.

“It also leads to better educational outcomes and an improvement in the overall wellbeing of our children.

“As Minister, I am delighted to see this programme extended so that thousands more children and their families can benefit.”


The Minister concluded:

The Hot School Meals Programme was initially launched on a pilot basis in 2019, serving 37 schools and some 6,600 primary school pupils.


“This extension means that over 55,000 primary school pupils will now benefit from a hot meal each day.


“I hope that we can see further progress in the coming months that will result in future expansions of this really important programme once again.”

Note for Editor

The School Meals Programme provides funding towards the provision of food to some 1,506 schools and organisations benefitting 230,000 children.  The objective of the programme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children who are unable, due to lack of good quality food, to take full advantage of the education provided to them.  The programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement.

Budget 2021 provided an additional €5.5m to extend the provision of hot school meals to an additional 35,000 primary school children, receiving the cold lunch option. Invitations for expressions of interest were issued to 705 primary schools (612 DEIS and 93 non-DEIS) in November 2020.  A total of 281 (256 DEIS and 25 non-DEIS) expressions of interest were received in respect of 52,148 children.

The 35,000 places were allocated to each local authority area based on the number of children applied by local authority as a percentage of the total number.  A minimum of one School for each Local Authority area was selected.  Thereafter, a process of random selection was used for each area.

Budget 2022 is providing for the Hot School Meals to be extended from January 2022 to the 81 DEIS schools that submitted an expression of interest but were not selected in the extension to 35,000. This will extend the provision of hot school meals to an additional 16,000 primary school children.