Free School Lunch Programme begins at CBS Primary in Dundalk (All photos: Arthur Kinahan)
The CBS Primary School in Dundalk was designated a DEIS school by the Dept of Education this year, a move that will see it receive additional State resources.
DEIS stands for Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools and it is aimed at addressing the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities. One of the benefits of being a DEIS school means that the CBS is now able to have a Free School Meals Programme.
Maria Doyle, who is a Louth County Councillor and also a teacher at the CBS Primary School, spoke to the Dundalk Democrat about the new programme. Maria also has the role of Home School Community Liasion Coordinator at the CBS, which is a role that all DEIS schools have.
“It's to liaise with parents and the community and to promote things like school attendance and positive relationships between home, school and community”, Maria explains. “It's a non teaching role and you're working with TUSLA as well”, she adds.
“That's the position I got this year. So as part of that, one of the things we will have in the school is a School Completion Programme.”
The School Completion Programme aims to help students from disadvantaged areas stay in school. Explaining the Free School Meals Programme, Maria says, “every child in the school is provided with a free meal. At the moment its cold lunches and they use an app to order. They get the fruit for a snack and then a choice of sandwich or roll or whatever at lunchtime.
“And then some time in October, probably the end of October, we're moving to hot food because that's a requirement of the Dept that we move to hot food. We can't do that until we have particular ovens, which have been ordered, installed.”
The new programme is a welcome addition to the school Maria explains. “It's just a really good resource for us, for our children, it will take some of the pressure off parents, particularly now with the cost of living. Prices and the cost of living increases that people are experiencing, it may take some of the pressure off parents, particularly for families who have several children in school - the cost of school lunches will be one less thing to worry about. We're delighted to be able to provide those for all the children in the school.”
Maria believes that the new programme offers more than just that however. “We're all for trying to make eating lunch a social event, so that all the children are sitting around chatting, eating their lunch. We're really focusing on that as well, to make sure the children are socialising, maybe moving around different tables and so on at different days to get to know other children in the class. That's another focus we're using our new programme to work on.”
Overall the school is very happy with the new programme. “We're delighted and we're glad its up and running”, Maria comments. "Its just a really good benefit for our children and for the families, and hopefully it'll be a great resource for everybody."
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.