The purpose of this statistical bulletin is to provide results of the latest annual data collection relating to the uptake of school meals in Northern Ireland schools, commonly known as the school meals census. The information was collected with a reference point of 7 October 2016 and relates to all grant-aided schools in Northern Ireland. Data collected through the school meals census are used by policy teams within the Department of Education and by other users across the education service, most notably by the Education Authority (formerly the Education and Library Boards). The data are also used to inform a number of Assembly questions. The Department is responsible for formulating and developing policy and the associated financial arrangements in relation to school meals.