Tesco to provide one million meals to school children and their families nationwide through expanded Stronger Starts programme

Marking 25 years in Ireland this year Tesco commits to helping school children most in need and their families  

Tesco Ireland is set to provide one million free, healthy, and nutritious meals to primary school children most in need and their families in an expansion of its Stronger Starts programme, by May 2023.  

The Stronger Starts programme, in partnership with The Good Grub Initiative, will grow over the next year.  From this month, Tesco is delighted to be supported by its long-standing local suppliers, Country Crest, Keelings and Dole as they come on board to support children in need. 

According to the CSO, one in thirteen Irish people were at risk of poverty* prior to the Pandemic. Stronger Starts builds on the work of the Good Grub Initiative who, during Covid-19 restrictions with support from home school community liaison officers, identified families who needed additional support at home, through DEIS schools. The initiative complements the existing Government programme which provide food supports to children and their families.   

This is the second phase of Stronger Starts, which started as a pilot programme in 40 DEIS schools in November (2021) providing 1,000 packs per week of healthy and nutritious food parcels, containing apples, onions, potatoes, and carrots to children and families most in need. Across this school year, the programme will double to 2,000 packs per week through 80 DEIS schools. Tesco commits that by May 2023, the programme will have provided over one million meals through DEIS schools around Ireland.   

Speaking about the initiative, Natasha Adams, Tesco Ireland, CEO said: “With Stronger Starts, our commitment is to provide fresh ingredients for one million meals to primary school children most in need and their families by the middle of next year. I’m delighted that the pilot has been so well received and that we can now accelerate our ambition and make a bigger difference in our communities. As we celebrate twenty-five years in Ireland, I am delighted that some of our long-term supplier partners, Country Crest, Keelings and Dole are coming on board too. We hope that this programme expansion will help make a positive change for children and families in our communities who are at risk of food insecurity.”   

Gabriel Hoey, Country Crest, Director, grower of potatoes and onions for Tesco for twenty-five years, said, “As a long-term partner of Tesco in Ireland, Country Crest has been supplying potatoes and onions to Tesco for a quarter of a century. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to deepen our own community engagement and provide children in need, and their families with healthy meal-time staples from our own family farm and our growers nationwide.”  

Des Ferris, Technical Director, Keelings, grower and provider of all Tesco own-label berries, said, “Keelings are delighted to join the Stronger Starts programme as a long-term supplier partner with Tesco.  Helping children and families in need to get a healthy meal with our nutritious fresh produce very much aligns with our own ethos and purpose, Better Food Better World”. 

Des McCoy, MD, Dole Ireland added “In Dole, we’re privileged to market fresh fruits and vegetables, synonymous as they are with good health and well-being.  We’re delighted to support Tesco and the Good Grub Initiative in providing fresh produce to communities in need nationwide.”  

Stronger Starts is the latest community support programme from Tesco, which is helping to build thriving communities across Ireland. Tesco was the first national retail partner of FoodCloud in 2014, and since then we've redistributed the equivalent of 15 million meals to nearly 400 charitable groups in communities all over Ireland – from breakfast clubs, to ’Meals on Wheels’, to community kitchens and food banks. 

For more information on Tesco Ireland’s commitment to communities nationwide, visit TescoIreland.ie 




* In 2020, the CSO confirmed that 13.2% of Irish people are ‘at risk of poverty’.  Source: CSO Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2020. The “at risk of poverty” threshold is defined as 60% of the median equivalised disposable income, according to the CSO 2020 study 

A meal is determined in weight as per the industry recognised standard - 420g. This is a WRAP definition recognised by FoodCloud and other charities. 

Items contained in the packs distributed may change throughout the year as Tesco works with suppliers to provide fresh, nutritious, seasonal products.  

Dole – formerly T/a Total Produce  

About Tesco  

Tesco has operated in the Irish retail market since 1997, and with 152 stores nationwide, it employs over 13,000 people in cities and towns around Ireland, supporting almost 45,000 jobs directly and indirectly. It partners with over 490 Irish suppliers - of which almost three-quarters are small and medium enterprises - which in turn supports almost 14,000 farming families around Ireland. Latest figures show that that the overall economic impact of Tesco’s expenditure in Ireland is €2.92 billion. 

About the Good Grub Initiative 

Good Grub is a not-for-profit initiative that has, since the start of the Covid pandemic, has delivered 150,000 nutritious fruit & veg parcels directly to the families of numerous DEIS school children around Ireland.  

About DEIS Schools  

Delivering Equality of Opportunity In Schools (DEIS) is an initiative of the Department of Education and Skills aimed at lessening educational disadvantage and bringing about social inclusion in primary and second level education. The DEIS programme focuses on targeting additional resources to those schools included in the programme to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to achieve their potential. 

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