Addressing Issues with “Free School Meals” Applications

Dear Parents

I wish to advise you that the processing of free school meals applications within the Education Authority is proving to be a very slow and cumbersome process for many.

It is imperative for the school and for you that this situation is resolved immediately. Both School’s funding and Parents’ entitlement to free school meals are being compromised.

At this point I would advise any of you who are experiencing difficulties to make contact with your elected representatives to encourage a speedy resolution to this situation.

Elected Representatives for the Slieve Gullion area are listed below with contact details

Thank you,

PMcDonnell (Principal)


Byrne, Pete

  • Party:SDLP
  • Email:Byrne, Pete
  • Tel:028 3086 8491 / 00353 8790 00141

Larkin, Mickey

Magennis, Oonagh

Ó Muirí, Barra

Taylor, David

Declan Murphy

  • Party:Sinn Féin
  • Email:Declan Murphy
  • Tel:028 3083 9669/ 00353 8726 57265


  • Party:Sinn Féin
  • Email:Aoife Finnegan
  • Tel:028 3086 1948 / 00353 8711 41388


“Nut Free” School Declarations

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Please see below part transcript of a letter received from the Head of Service- EA Catering re- school meals and nut allergens.

Dear Principal,

It has come to the notice of Environmental Health colleagues that a number of schools are issuing statements that they are “nut free”, in an effort to control risk for those pupils affected. Although the school catering service does not use nuts or products containing nuts in any recipes, we cannot claim to be nut free. 

Various products are used in recipies that do not contain nuts or nut derivatives, however the food packaging on thes products include “may contain” or “produced in a factory where allergens are present” statements. This is called precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) Precautionary allergen labelling checklist, Food Standards Agency. To help consumers make safe and informed choices, food businesses may voluntarily provide this information about the unintentional presence of allergens.

The catering service procure a high volume of food items from various suppliers. Frequent substitutions and product reformulation create the task of removing items with PAL from the kitchen extremely difficult. To ban all of these would also restrict the foods that could be offered, potentially affecting the legal requirement to meet nutrional standards for school lunches for all other pupils who avail of these, particularly pupils entitled to a free school meal.

Allergy UK do not recommend banning nuts at all, as it is a very difficult guarantee to make and could potentially cause a greater risk by creating a false sense of security.

The catering service continue to provide meals for all special dietrary requirements including pupils with nut allergies. The following guidance is available to support schools in relation to special dietary requirements of pupils.

Yours Sincerely,

Stephen Briggs- Head of Service- EA Catering

Free School Meals- Easter Break Payment

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Families entitled to Free School Meals will receive a payment from EA to support meals during the Easter break. This will be paid to your bank account (if details are available) or by cheque. For further information please contact the EA Helpdesk at the number below or check out their website at the web address given.

📞 Helpdesk: 02890 418044 (Mon- Fri, 9am – 4:30pm)

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