School Meals

180,000 meals are produced daily for children in schools in Northern Ireland. 

School Food, Healthy EatingIn grant-aided schools these are the responsibility of the Education Authority School Catering Service and in Voluntary Grammar and Grant-Maintained sector this responsibility falls to the Board of Governors.

Meals are served to children of all ages from nursery to post primary and for those pupils attending special schools. In addition there is a catering provision to staff both in schools and out centres.

School food is designed to offer children a variety of nutritious lunches that include familiar favourites, as well as tempting new tastes to try. Meals are freshly cooked in schools each day using seasonal ingredients offering healthy varied menus which encourage children to "try something new today" and appreciate good food.

Each school has its own arrangements in place to support pupils in making healthy food choices and to help them with the practicalities of lunchtime so that they can fully enjoy their meals.

Benefits of school food:    

  • A freshly prepared nutritious meal;  
  • Value for money;    
  • More convenient than a packed lunch;
  • A social opportunity to eat with others;
  • Prepared by a local team of staff;
  • The ability to cater for special dietary requirements;
  • Availability of vegetarian options.

Consultation on new nutritional standards (2020)

The Department of Education is seeking views on proposals to update the nutritional standards of food provided in grant-aided schools.

Education Minister Peter Weir launched the consultation, Update to Nutritional Standards for School Food on Thursday 30 January. The consultation will run until Friday 27 March.

It is planned, subject to the outcome of this consultation and the availability of funding that these changes will be implemented with effect from September 2020.

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Last updated: 25/02/2020