Starting in September, students at Ireland’s elementary schools will have the option of a vegan meal as part of a new pilot project that aims to provide daily hot meals to students. The Hot School Meals Scheme Project will provide funding for up to 72,000 students in 36 schools. In order to be considered for the pilot project, a school must identify a supplier who will prepare and deliver hot meals. Participating schools will be expected to provide a menu choice of at least two different meals per day plus a vegan option and an option that caters to students’ religious and cultural dietary requirements. “The provision of adequate and nutritious meals for a child’s health, learning, attention, and educational achievement is invaluable,” Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said. “I believe that the provision of hot food services in schools guarantees ongoing positive returns on public investment in the health and educational performance of future generations.” The €1 million ($1.1 million) pilot project will build on the experience of a similar initiative at Our Lady of Lourdes National School in Dublin, where 250 students have received a hot meal at lunchtime each school day since January. The initiative provided an opportunity to trial various menu options and identify student preferences, and confirm that it was possible to meet special dietary requirements as well as provide hot meals in schools that do not have kitchen facilities.

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