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A fruit snack, a glass of milk: Salty or sugary school meals won't get funding

Schools are recommended to serve water and milk to children as part of the programme.

9482 School Meals Programmes_90524463 Ministers Richard Bruton, Simon Harris and Regina Doherty at City Quay School. Source: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that schools serving meals high in fat, salt or sugar won’t be funded as part of the State’s School Meals programme.

The introduction of the new nutrition standards means that only schools offering healthy food choices will be funded for breakfast clubs, school lunches and snacks, after school clubs and school dinners.

Among the new Nutrition Standards, which can be found here, are recommendation on what should be given for breakfast.

Nutritional standards The new breakfast guidelines. Source: Nutritional Guidelines

The guidelines also recommend water or milk as the best drink choice to offer children, and a piece of fruit or yoghurt as possible snacks.

The School Meals programme, which has a budget of almost €50 million, benefits almost 250,000 children across Ireland, with priority being given to those schools in the Deis programme.

It’s up to the individual school to decide what meals it offers to children; the Department of Social Protection previously gave an example of a breakfast meal as “cereal, toast, scone, fruit, yoghurt, milk, unsweetened juice: two items must be provided”.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the new standards “will make a major contribution towards [children's] lifelong health”.

Regina Doherty, who’s heading up the Department for Employment Affairs and Social Protection said that she’d increased the funding for the scheme by €5.5 million this year.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said that he was making “tackling child poverty and educational disadvantage” a key priority.

Childhood obesity is a growing issue in Ireland, with estimates predicting that Ireland could become Europe’s fattest nation by 2030.

Read: My kids’ lunchboxes will never be Pinterest-perfect, but here’s why it doesn’t matter

Read: Questions raised over how schools are chosen for government meals scheme

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