025. Free School Lunches for All Pupils

There is a School Meals Programme for a number of years, which provides schools (generally DEIS schools) with a €1.40 per pupil grant, which the school can use to provide each pupil with a sandwich, piece of fruit and a drink. The school receives a maximum of 90% of the money they apply for (seriously, this is policy!) and then the school is responsible for managing the company that provides the food (because what school has the personnel or the resources to make a lunch for €1.40 per pupil?) and the school also has to manage the finances of this. Because of some idiots who were fiddling the books, schools now have to open a separate bank account solely for this grant, making even more work for the school.

Surely, with a bit of common sense thinking, it would be very easy for all schools to have canteens (even mobile canteens) which would be run by a company that would be sourced and financed directly from the government.

These lunches shouldn’t be a sandwich, a bit of fruit and a drink. We need to provide the kinds of lunches that are provided in almost every other country – hot lunches. Here’s an example of how they do it in Japan in a primary school with a class size of 28 pupils.

 

Something like this could be extended to communities where hot food could be prepared and served to care homes, government agencies, people who are homeless, pre-schools, and even private companies. In fact, wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to see private companies sponsoring such initiatives?

The downside is it is unlikely that we’d be able to do something like this within the very short break times we have. I know I’d take the hit if it meant having a healthy nutritious hot lunch every day.

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