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Universal Free School meals

  • 30-03-2023 8:48am
    Registered Users Posts: 842 ✭✭✭

    Another universal benefit on the cards- free school meals.

    My question is should these schemes be universal, I detest the hiding behind the hungry child in need as the basis for the scheme yet the millionaire's child( and prob fine gael voter) recieves the same benefit.

    Regardless those at the lower end on social welfare recieve 50 euro child dependant payment or Working family payments along with 40 euro child benefit, and those at the upper end certantly don't have bare food shelves.



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,395 ✭✭✭SteM

    Wouldn't worry about it, it's won't happen in our lifetime. How many schools in this country are actually set up to provide hot meals to children? My son is in 5th class in a school that was only built 3 years ago and there would be no space available to feed all of the children there, never mind space for facilities to prepare hot food or keep it warm if it's made offsite. This is pie-in-the-sky stuff.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,864 ✭✭✭Tow

    How would you do it?

    I went to school in France, many years ago. School was all day, 8am to ~5pm. Those from families on 'welfare' got paper vouchers to pay for their meals, others paid cash. From memory the meals were well subdised to begin with.

    Now in this PC world what system would not allowed, as everyone would know who came from a poor family.

    When is the money (including lost growth) Michael Noonan took in the Pension Levy going to be paid back?

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,742 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    Ireland being Ireland, everyone will know that anyway.

    But, if identifying the kids from poor families is a problem, it's an easily-fixed one. Arrange matters so that all the kids pay for their meals with vouchers - no cash is handled in the dining hall. (There are other advantages to this.) Nobody can tell who got their vouchers for free and who was charged for them, since the distribution of the vouchers is not done in public.

  • Registered Users Posts: 43,006 ✭✭✭✭SEPT 23 1989

    If you are unable or can’t be bothered to give your child a bowl of cereal and a few sandwiches five days a week should Tusla not get involved?

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,169 ✭✭✭✭ednwireland

    I went to school in the UK had proper school meals (meat veg cooked onsite) was paid for in advance either by parents or council.

    until thatcher got rid of the nutritional requirements and it ended up been chips and burgers every day

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,680 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    Does anyone know what the quality of the food is like in the current meals programme?

    I've seen the absolute shíte the "Food Dudes" programme (that's supposed to encourage kids to eat fruit and veg in primary school) provides. For example, my kids absolutely adore raw red peppers. If I chopped a pepper and left it out, it would be gone in minutes.Yet this is what my kids brought home from Food Dudes:

    They couldn't even face opening the packet (not that fresh peppers should come in a sealed plastic packet in the first place), and had to hide it in their bag and pretend to the teacher they'd eaten it. The rest of the fruit and veg was as bad. For that week, they ate all the fruit and veg I provided, and all the Food Dudes mank went into the compost. These are kids who'll regularly go to the fridge and pull out a raw carrot to munch on (of course, they'd eat their own bodyweight in biscuits and crisps too if they had the chance). Food Dudes ticks all the boxes on paper, but I cannot see how it's in any way effective in getting kids to eat fruit and veg.

    My fear is that these hot meals are going to be the minimum quality, pre-packaged rubbish from the lowest bidder, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

    As it stands, my kids get a relatively healthy lunch from me each day (sandwich, wrap or bagel, 3 different pieces of fruit or veg, a rice cake or cream crackers as a snack and water) and we all sit down for a meal in the evenings, so they're not in need of it at all.

    But I completely understand that not all kids get this, and there is a need for it. I do find it encouraging that the report on the current programme says that there's evidence that there has been improvement in school attendance, behaviour and concentration as a result of the programme.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,809 ✭✭✭✭blanch152

    This is a good idea. Many parents are not capable of providing proper meals to their children, so this will go some way to addressing that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,478 ✭✭✭Furze99

    We used to get marmalade sandwiches and maybe an apple. Didn't do us a bit of harm.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,594 ✭✭✭Nermal

    Yes, they should be universal.

    Means testing distorts incentives to work and save.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,073 ✭✭✭Jinglejangle69

    1600 schools are already doing it.

    I thought all kids should be treated equally when it comes to health, education welfare etc etc

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  • Registered Users Posts: 842 ✭✭✭doc22

    "I do find it encouraging that the report on the current programme says that there's evidence that there has been improvement in school attendance, behaviour and concentration as a result of the programme."

    I'd love to see the control groups and how they measured the above. I think it is weird to pass the job of feeding ALL children to the state in school while simulataneous providing a social welfare structure to do the same.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,506 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    And that is that fundamental problem with school meals: they mask child neglect abuse.

    Parents who don't feed their kid won't be looking after them in other ways.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,064 ✭✭✭plodder

    A colleague was telling me that in France all kids get a three course cooked lunch every day. I doubt we could quickly replicate what they have there, but if you can serve hot meals on a cramped aeroplane then it should be possible in a school. Prepare them offsite and deliver on refrigerated trays, just needing to be reheated. I think this is a great development as regards Deis schools at least, and they should look at widening it. It would be a lot more nutritious than the kind of "gourmet" sandwiches that many Deis schools currently serve.

    I heard the school principal on the radio this morning who's doing it as a pilot and she mentioned one kid who had to get time off to go to the dentist, but would be back in time "for his dinner". Those kids would previously have taken the whole day off.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,809 ✭✭✭✭blanch152

    If I believed that all such neglect and abuse could be detected and dealt with, that would be different. It can't and it won't, so addressing some of the problem through school meals is a better approach.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,609 ✭✭✭maninasia

    hot school meals are very common even in countries that are less 'developed ' than Ireland and not just in Europe. Usually outside caterers. Parents will pay towards the costs also.

    Ireland is just way behind the curve on this. The lack of hot or even any school meal provision is frankly odd, no matter a rich or poor country, fully subsidised or not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,609 ✭✭✭maninasia

    I recognise this myself :), reality is It probably did do us harm by not providing enough nutrition.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,458 ✭✭✭✭Varik

    Japanese primary schools have lunches provided, after primary it's more school shop type things.

    Hot meals delivered to the school too, the classrooms turn the desk in toward each other in groups of 4 or 6 and it's other students handing out the bowls' of food. They also mostly have students doing all the cleaning in the school except for the stuff that really needs an adult. Called Kyushoku.

    Wonder if anything was done here what the meals would contain, japan is rice, meat, soup and veg sides. In Ireland parents and groups be demanding avoiding everything that any human has ever been allergic too and to be fully vegan.

  • Registered Users Posts: 80,434 ✭✭✭✭Overheal

    Ive heard this as well taking care of each other and learning to cook etc is all part of the education, not just some antisocial cafeteria staff handing over slop and square sheets of pizza.

    A universal system would be great even if some kid has rich parents; if they’re eating the same and being the same kids what’s the harm.

    Not what happens in the US of course, kids can be shamed by staff for nonpayment and kids with cash can even upgrade to specially set aside premium items like actual pizza or servings of ice cream. Toxic consumer culture at its finest.

  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    My kids schools and at least another 20 I know of already provide hot lunches daily to all the kids

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,680 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    And how do you find it? Did the school have to install much infrastructure for the storage, heating and distribution of the meals? Does it have a canteen or dining hall, or do kids eat in the class? And do the kids enjoy the food?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 40,291 ✭✭✭✭Gatling

    Our school has a small servery in the hall there was three heating cabinets installed primarily to keep food hot untill lunch,the meals are prepped by an outside company,so there is no need for food production kitchens to be installed,

    The meals aren't big but they suit primary aged kids , we have pasta dishes, from plain pasta and basic tomatoe sauce to , chorizo and ham pasta , broccoli and cheese sauce pasta bake , chicken curry, Salmon, roast chicken and seasonal veg , vegetarian and vegans dishes along with halal foods ,

    That's only a few of the options available ,and the containers are all paper and fully recycle able.

    It's a far cry from currant buns and cornbeef sandwichs from the 80s alot of us would know

    Just to add we have about 300 kids in the school and they only needed to bring in one person part time to help one other person to pack the lunches into crates and deliver them to each class room .

    My kids enjoy the food and from what I can gather there is little wasted except on days we have a decent absentee rate ,

    As a parent I've had several of the dishes from roast chicken and vegetables to salmon and I found them nice enough, only one I didn't enjoy was a pumpkin Dahl

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,246 ✭✭✭✭Dyr

    Votes need to be bought, more free **** that you can pay for to keep the lads in goverrnment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 862 ✭✭✭redlough

    A program for kids yet the first post is about "fine gael voter". Why would you detest a child getting a free meal?

    Very odd post and not sure why anyone would begrudge a child a meal

    This is a great scheme and should be looked at if possible.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,237 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    Our kids school has them. Meals are pretty hit and miss, today was spag bol which the kids said was so sickly sweet they couldn't eat it and thats saying something. Other days they have nice wraps and then some days its chicken balls in gravy with potato cubes. Health doesn't really seem to come into it at all. Still, i can see that some kids in the catchment area are doing well from it so not complaining (though wish we had a Jamie Oliver type designing the healthy tasty meals like he did in the UK).

    Have a weather station?, why not join the Ireland Weather Network -

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    I worry that a lot of these things are going to end up like the Celtic tiger era 1k per month for every child under 6 and medical cards for all over 70s.

  • Registered Users Posts: 195 ✭✭marknjb

    what are parents getting children's allowance for if they cant feed their children

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,009 ✭✭✭Quitelife

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,680 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,903 ✭✭✭0ph0rce0

    They have this in my daughters school for the last year. Top quality healthy food. Quite impressed to be fair.

    She's set in her ways so likes to take a packed lunch but will eat it some days.

    When she doesn't eat it she throws it in the bag and brings it home.

    She brought back a burrito yesterday. I slaughtered it. Nicer than any Boojum I've ever had.

    Hats off to the chefs.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,606 ✭✭✭✭martingriff

    I think it's a great idea giving kids at least one healthy meal. It's not about if the kid has rich or poor parents. If both parents are working they may throw anything together in the evening due to time.

    But no must hate this as god forbid they treat all children (especially those evil politicians kids) othe same and try and make sure they have something nutritional (now that I have my doubts on)

    That or its just a bashing on poor people. If they get this right then I will applaud any political that does it