A Guide to the School Meals Program
This guide is prepared on the basis of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any additional questions or require clarification we would be delighted to help in any way we can. You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1850 812 300. Further information is also available from the Department of Social Protection website.
CARAMBOLA: FOR A CHILD CENTRED APPROACH
As Ireland’s leading school meals provider, our objectives and processes of continuous improvement, are there to ensure;
• the children in your care get the tastiest and healthiest food, and that
• we protect all stakeholders by having the most effective health and safety procedures.
We achieve this because we adopt a child-centred approach to all of our work.
We have prepared this guide for the benefit of the Boards of Management, Principals, Parents and other interested stakeholders in client schools.
HOW IS THE FOOD SERVED?
There are no specific Department guidelines in this regard. However, in Carambola client schools every day each child receives a lunch bag that will include their breakfast/ snack and lunch. Every lunch bag has a label that displays the child’s name, school’s name, class name, the contents of the bag and nutritional information, such as calorie count. Bulk delivery is also available depending on the school requirements.
HOW DO CHILDREN CHOOSE THEIR MENU OPTIONS?
This can be done manually on a paper menu with ‘tick a box’ options, we also have an online facility and you can always call us on 1850 812 300 and we’ll take care of it for you!
HOW DO WE MANAGE CONTACT WITH SCHOOLS?
Communication is key. As part of the contract management, a pre-agreed communications channel with each school will be used. This may be a school visit, phone call, email or a combination of these.
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is agreed with each school, with a process in place to ensure all requests and queries are dealt with. Each school will have a single point of contact which is usually a local customer care manager.
WHAT IS THE SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAM?
The School Meals Programme (SMP) provides healthy nutritious breakfast and lunch to children in participating schools. It is managed and funded by the Department of Social Protection.
The implementation of the SMP is the responsibility of the Board of Management of each school. This will include ensuring that; a child-centred approach is adopted, that the children get the best possible food and ensuring adherence to best practice in health and safety etc.
HOW DO WE ENSURE HEALTHY AND NUTRITIOUS FOOD?
We are very conscious of the obligation to provide children with healthy and nutritious food. We were the first Irish Company to introduce calorie counting (calories are calculated individually per lunch and printed on the lunch bag label).
We continuously challenge our menu items to ensure they are the healthiest and most nutritious for the children.
Items that will not be supplied by Carambola:
• Fizzy Drinks
• Flavoured Sweets
Our in-house nutritional advisor Rachel Mescall-Fitzpatrick has the final say on all items included on our menu, and her decision rests on asking herself “would I feed this to my own child?” If the answer is yes, then it’s included. If the answer is no, it will never be included.
In addition, we are very particular about our own suppliers and only deal with the most reputable of companies.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The SMP is funded entirely by the Department of Social Protection and there is no cost to the school or the children / parents / guardians. Generally the schools are provided with 60c per day to provide a breakfast / snack and €1.40 per day to provide a lunch, to each of the children in the school.
HOW DO WE MANAGE ALLERGIES AND SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS?
We have a state of the art Allergy Management System, which allows us to monitor, on a daily basis, individual children to ensure that their lunch is suitable. Our system will allow the school / parent / guardian to input an allergy onto our online system, where it remains until it is removed by the school / parent / guardian. This allergy notification causes the available menu for that individual child to adjust, only offering items which are safe to be consumed. We currently cater for over 2,500 children with allergies or religious preferences (we offer a Halal suitable menu). Each child’s lunch is individually “double-checked” daily by a dedicated staff member to ensure that no unsuitable item has made its way to the bag.
In order to control our allergy management systems, we operate a Strict Approved Supplier Program – this means that we are always sure of the quality and ingredients of every item on our menu, and also it prevents the possibility of products becoming unavailable without notice; for example, our Yoghurt will always be a Glenisk Organic Strawberry yoghurt, until the menu is reviewed based on popularity.
CAN CHILDREN HAVE SOMETHING DIFFERENT EVERY DAY?
There are no specific Department guidelines in this regard. However, in Carambola client schools the answer is YES. We encourage children to change their selection to enable them sample different tastes and textures. Of course, if a child is happy with their initial selection then we will continue to supply that.
WHAT KIND OF FOOD IS PROVIDED?
The Department of Social Protection Guidelines provide the following as examples of the food to be provided:
Filled Sandwich / Roll or Soup & Roll or Salad Plate, plus two other items (e.g. Milk, Fruit, Yogurt).
Carambola Lunch Menu
Breakfast / Snack
Cereal, Toast, Scone, Fruit, Yogurt, Milk (two items must be provided).
Carambola Breakfast / Snack Menu