Minister For Health Simon Harris Launches €50 Million School Meals Plan

Photo Credit: Minister for Education Richard Bruton with Minister for Health Simon Harris with the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty at the launch of the new School Meals Plan – Photo: Gavin Chaney

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has launched a major new School Meals Programme funded through the three government departments of Health, Education and Social Protection.

Launching the new School Meals plan the Minister for Health stated that while the levels of obesity was levelling off among 7 year olds, this trend is not seen in children from poorer backgrounds and hence the revision of school meals provided by the State.

The new School Meals programme will be available to 240,000 school children in disadvantaged areas who will be served up a diet of healthy fare now that the school meals menus have been reviewed by a team of nutritionists.

A typical breakfast could include a bowl of low-sugar, high-fibre wholemeal or wholegrain breakfast cereal or bread. This could be accompanied by fruit or a glass of milk, or yogurt or cheese.

Breakfast cereal bars cannot be served as a substitute for a bowl of cereal.

A snack should contain one serving of vegetables and fruit. Whole fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges are a better choice than fruit juice. Every lunch or after-school meal should have two servings of vegetables, salad or fruit.

Children should be given two thin slices of wholemeal bread and one serving of meat, poultry, eggs, beans, cheese or nuts.

Nearly all types of bread are allowed but white bread cannot be served more than twice a week.

Potatoes, pasta or rice are allowed but the traditional spud must be either boiled or steamed with no oil or butter added. Salt cannot be added to pasta or rice.

High fat sauces to garnish vegetables are out while the vegetables must be boiled or steamed in a small amount of water.

Red meat should be on the menu at least twice a week but not more than three times.

Sausages, chicken nuggets and rashers can still make an appearance on the dinner plate but once a week at a maximum.

Pizza may also make the grade but it has to have a wholemeal base with a topping of fruit and vegetables with a low fat cheese.

Source Eilish O’Regan, Irish Independent