School Meals in Northern Ireland 2017/18 Statistical Bulletin

Date published: 12 April 2018

The Department of Education today published the 2017/18 School Meals in Northern Ireland Statistical Bulletin.

The purpose of the statistical bulletin is to provide results of the annual data collection relating to the uptake of school meals in Northern Ireland schools in 2017/18, this data collection is commonly known as the school meals census.

The key findings are as follows:

Uptake of School Meals (free and paid)

  • Over 184,000 school meals, both free and paid, were taken by pupils on census day, which equates to a school meals uptake level of 59.5% by pupils present for lunch on the day.
  • The school meals uptake level for 2017/18 is 1.6 percentage points lower than the previous year.

Entitlement to Free School Meals

100,254 pupils in grant-aided schools are entitled to free school meals; this represents 29.9% of pupils.

Uptake of Free School Meals

The uptake level for free school meals by entitled pupils is 80.8%.

The full statistical bulletin can be found on the Department of Education website at:

Notes to editors: 

1. For more details about the statistics contained in this press release, or to request further information and analysis, please contact:

Leonie Robinson
Analytical Services Unit
Department of Education
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
BT19 7PR

Tel: 02891 279992

2. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Education’s Press Office on tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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