Healthy Lunch Policy

Introductory Statement

This policy has been formulated by the staff of Ballagh National School. Our school strives to help all those involved in our school community to develop positive attitudes to food to promote wellbeing and healthy living. As part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Wellbeing Programme at Ballagh National School, we encourage the children to become more aware of the need for healthy food in their lunch boxes.


The aim of this policy is to ensure children eat a healthy, well-balanced lunch, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle. By encouraging healthy eating patterns, we educate children for later life.


  1. To enable the child to appreciate the importance of good nutrition for growing, developing and staying healthy.
  1. To enable the child to accept some personal responsibility for making wise food choices for their school lunch in line with a healthy, balanced diet.
  1. To ensure that the staff and children acknowledge and respect the ethical and religious food choices of others while also being mindful of allergies e.g. vegetarian, vegan, coeliac, halal etc.
  1. To ensure pupils are well nourished at school and that every pupil has access to nutritious food and a safe, easily available water supply during the school day.
  1. To encourage and promote the recycling of lunch packaging, the reduction of waste food and the reuse of food containers and bottles/beakers in conjunction with our Green-School’s action plan.

Healthy Lunch Options

A healthy lunch leaflet was given to each family which contains ideas and tips on how to prepare a healthy lunchbox.  We encourage children to choose from the following foods regularly

  • Bread/scones
  • Pitta bread
  • Fruit
  • Raw vegetables
  • Cheese, lean meat, eggs, fish, salad
  • Fruit Juice
  • Yoghurt Drinks
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Soup

Treat Foods

We recommend foods such as:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Raisins
  • Yogurt or Yogurt drinks

Chewing gum, crisps, chocolate and bars, sweets, fizzy drinks are not allowed.

Culture and Environment:

To ensure good concentration throughout the day, it is important for the children to eat a healthy breakfast before coming to school.

School lunches:

Here in Ballagh National School, we are very fortunate to be able to provide every child in the school with a nutritious, hot lunch, free of charge under the The School Meals Programme operated by the Department of Social Protection.

We encourage all families to avail of the School Meals Programme and by doing so, you can rest assured that your child is receiving a healthy, well balanced meal every day. There is a great variety of food options available over the course of the week.

Lunchboxes and food waste/recycling:

Children will be asked not to swap lunches or share food utensils/drink containers. Please ensure that your child has a large empty lunchbox in school with them every day. Please practice opening and closing this lunchbox with your child as many of them can have clips that are difficult for younger children to manage. Students supply their own cutlery also for the Hot Meals programme.

The School Meals programme delivers each child’s lunch individually in a plastic sealed container.  When food is consumed and to avoid a mess in the child’s schoolbag and damage to Book Rental books/copies, the children must bring home their food waste and recycling in their lunchbox. We are a Green School and place a big emphasis on recycling and limiting waste. The children will be encouraged to finish their lunch and then bring home any leftovers and wrappers.

 Due to the volume of waste/recycling, it is not possible for the school to provide bin facilities for every student on a daily basis. Also it is clearly communicated to parents that leftover food from the Hot Meals programme is not suitable for reheating at home later in the day and the school or the meals provider accept no liability if people do so.

Curriculum (Teaching and Learning):

  • We regard healthy eating education as a whole-school issue and we believe that opportunities to teach about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle occur throughout the curriculum.
  • Healthy eating education forms an important part of our school’s curriculum. The importance of balanced nutrition and healthy food choices is explicitly taught through the Science and SPHE curriculum. The Math Curriculum is also an avenue to explore healthy eating – e.g. label reading skills are math based! (Quantities, serving size, ingredients etc.) Additionally, Geography can provide opportunities to discuss where certain ingredients come from and what countries they are grown in. History can also be used to track the origin of certain foods, their introduction to Ireland and also explore cultural likes/dislikes of food and issues involving availability.
  • All pupils have the opportunity to learn about food hygiene and safe food preparation and to learn about where food has come from. Pupils learn about the requirements for plant growth, the food chain and the components of a healthy diet through the Science curriculum. Through the SPHE curriculum, children will learn about food and nutrition as part of the strand unit; taking care of my body. In addition, the Physical Education programme supports the physical development and fitness levels of the children and the link that food and nutrition can play.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Role of parents:

  • Provide a healthy well-balanced lunch for children
  • Encourage healthy eating
  • Inform the school of any child’s special dietary needs – Parents/guardians of children with special dietary requirements should make an appointment with the Principal to discuss the implications of this policy.
  • To implement school policy by not allowing their children to bring chewing gum, sweets, crisps, chocolate bars or fizzy drinks to school
  • Hot liquids/lunches in flasks are not permitted as they are a health and safety risk.

  Role of Children:

  • To eat their lunch
  • To bring home any uneaten lunch
  • To help make their lunches and remind parents of the Healthy Lunch Policy
  • Not to bring chewing gum, crisps, chocolate bars or sweets or fizzy drinks to school

Role of School:

  • To promote and encourage healthy eating.
  • If children bring chewing gum, crisps, chocolate bars, sweets or fizzy drinks to school they will not be allowed to eat them while in school. If children have these foods and no other food or no food for their lunch a lunch will be made up by the siblings of the child or other children in the class sharing with the child for that day.
  • From time to time we will arrange for outside agencies to come in and speak to the school community (students, staff and parents) on the benefits of Healthy Eating/ Public Health Nurse/ Food Dudes Coordinator.
  • A copy of The Healthy Food Pyramid will be on display in each classroom and will be referred to regularly.
  • As part of the Social Personal and Health Education curriculum reasons for healthy eating will be discussed with the children regularly by staff.
  • A healthy eating week is usually held the second week of September or in line with Food Dudes calendar dates.
  • Teachers will continue to give children a sweet treat on occasions in recognition of work done, improvements in work or behaviour and in an effort to promote positive behaviour. Sweet treats used prudently by teachers will not interfere with the health of the children.