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Monday, 15 April 2024 

Taoiseach Simon Harris and the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, TD, have today announced that 900 additional Primary Schools are being approved for the Hot School Meals Programme.

Today’s announcement means an additional 150,000 children will benefit from nutritious Hot Meals.

In addition, the Taoiseach and Minister Humphreys have announced that the any remaining Primary Schools who have not yet joined the scheme can now express an interest to receive Hot School Meals.

Speaking during a joint visit to St. Thomas Junior National School in Lucan, Taoiseach Simon Harris said:

“I am so proud of this programme. It is one of the things that is mentioned to me most as I visit communities across the country.

We launched Hot School Meals as a pilot 5-years ago and it has seen huge demand ever since. Today’s expansion to an additional 150,000 children means that over 316,000 children can now receive a nutritious, hot meal during their school day.

As Taoiseach I have promised to focus on delivery of our pledges to help families and today’s announcement is just one of the ways I am planning to do this.” 

Announcing details of the rollout, Minister Humphreys said: 

“I am delighted to announce today that an additional 900 Primary Schools have been approved for the Hot School Meals Programme, many of which have already started getting their hot meals.

When I was appointed Minister for Social Protection in June 2020, there were 30 schools receiving Hot Meals. Today’s announcement means that from today there are over 2,000 Primary Schools able to benefit from Hot School Meals. Every school that submitted an Expression of Interest has been brought onto the scheme.

However, as news of the positive experience has spread, some schools who had not signed up previously are now interested in coming on board. I delighted to hear this, so I am opening a new round of Expressions of Interest to allow us to bring hot School meals to these schools.

My ambition is that every primary school child in the country will be receiving a hot meal in 2025. This is well ahead of our original target to make Hot School Meals universal in Primary Schools by 2030.” 

Minister of State Jack Chambers said:

“Hot School Meals is an incredible programme that is supporting the wellbeing of children in schools all over the country.

The expansion of the programme has been a priority for Government and its rollout has been supported by the Department of Education under Minister Norma Foley.

As Government continues to provide key cost-of-living supports, parents and families with school-going children will massively benefit from the Hot Schools Meals Programme in addition to the schoolbooks scheme and a range of other targeted cost-of-living initiatives.”

Minister of State Pippa Hackett said:

“Hot school meals make such a valuable contribution to the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of children across Ireland.

In light of the new Green Public Procurement Strategy, all new public procurement contracts will see a minimum of 10% certified organic food included.

It’s good news in terms of biodiversity, climate action and the increasing number of organic farmers across the country. But most of all, it’s good news for the school children who will enjoy these tasty and nutritious meals.”

The Hot School Meals Programme was introduced in 2019 as a small pilot of 30 schools.

Minister Humphreys has grown the Programme significantly in recent years and over 2,000 Primary Schools are now eligible to receive a Hot Meal.

Last year, Minister Humphreys signalled her intention to roll out the Hot School Meals Programme to all Primary Schools. As part of this significant expansion plan, all remaining Primary Schools were contacted and requested to submit an expression of interest form if their school is interested in commencing the provision of Hot Meals.

Applications for the Hot School Meals Programme were received from some 900 Primary Schools in respect of 150,000 children and these schools will be as of today participating in the Hot School Meals Programme.

The Department of Social Protection provides the funding to schools for the School Meals Programme, and it is the responsibility of each school to choose their supplier in an open, fair and transparent manner in accordance with national legislation and EU directives on procurement.


The objective of the School Meals Programme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children to support them in taking full advantage of the education provided to them. The programme is an important component of policies to encourage school attendance and extra educational achievement.

The Hot School Meals element was introduced in 2019 and has grown significantly from a small pilot of 30 schools. Today’s announcement will bring the total number of schools able to benefit from Hot Meals to 2,000 since 08 April 2024.

All remaining Primary Schools will now have an opportunity to submit an Expression of Interest to start receiving Hot School Meals.