Hot school meals programme expanded with 900 more locations joining scheme

More than 2,000 schools now part of the initiative, says Heather Humphreys

The hot school meals programme has been expanded with 900 more primary schools joining the scheme.

Around 150,000 additional children will now benefit from the scheme, following the announcement on Monday by Taoiseach Simon Harris and Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys.

Mr Harris said the Government was determined to ensure the roll-out of the scheme across all primary schools.

Ms Humphreys said the announcement meant that 2,000 schools would now be in receipt of the scheme.


“Today I am asking those schools who are not a part of the programme to please indicate your expression of interest, and my plan is that by 2025 every child attending a primary school will receive a hot school lunch,” she said.

Primary schools which have not yet joined the scheme can express an interest and they will be enlisted in the coming months.

The school meals programme was first introduced in 2003. However, hot meals became a part of the programme in 2019, starting with a pilot scheme of 37 schools.

Separately, Mr Harris indicated that the Government may look at extending the temporary waiver on development contributions for new residential developments.

Speaking ahead of his first Cabinet committee on housing as Taoiseach, Mr Harris said he wanted to look at what could be done in terms of practical measures to support housing supply.

“I think we have a shared view that the waiver on the development levies is something that’s working,” he said.

“We’ve seen commencements in the month of January being almost at record levels. I think if you have an initiative that’s working, if you have an initiative that’s making a difference and could make an even further difference, that’s something I’d like to prioritise with Minister [for Housing Darragh] O’Brien very quickly and I hope we have an opportunity to discuss that.”

The Taoiseach also said he would not be providing “a running commentary” on every latest budget idea following comments from the Minister for Finance Michael McGrath at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis over the weekend.

Mr Harris said that every party had its own ardfheis and had “every right to set out its own perspective”.

“What I can definitely say is because of the conditions that our economy is now in, because of the incredible effort of the Irish people, because of the sound economic policies that we have pursued over the last several years, we will be in a position of course to deliver a budgetary framework that will make progress on a number of areas, including in relation to tax, social welfare, supporting children and parents,” he added.

Mr Harris said his job was to work with other party leaders and Cabinet colleagues to “put in place a good, decent Budget in the autumn and that’s what we’re going to do”.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times