Three-course lunches, finger buffets and Irish stew were among the “refreshments” served up at Stormont committee meetings in the past year.
Gourmet sandwiches, chicken salads and fruit platters were also supplied for the MLA meetings, as well as tea, coffee, scones, biscuits and traybakes.
Overall more than £5,400 of public money was spent during 2020 up to early November on the varied selection of tasty treats.
The bill includes £54.88 on bottled water.
Public spending campaigners branded it “indulgent” at a time when households have been struggling with the coronavirus crisis.
More than half of the cost was on tea and coffee at £2,855.44, followed by £495.26 on scones, £370.10 on fruit platters and £345.79 on ‘food-bowl lunches’.
A total of £323.62 was spent on biscuits, while traybakes and shortbread cost £137.05.
Three-course lunches cost £302.72, Irish stew was £115.50, finger buffets cost £155.04 and spending on gourmet sandwiches was £63.54.
The details were disclosed to Belfast Live through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
The spending is less than in previous years with the coronavirus pandemic reducing in-person attendance at meetings.
Between 2007/08 and 2014/15, Stormont committee refreshments cost an average of £32,000 a year.
By contrast at Westminster, according to an FOI response in 2016, the only refreshment served in committee rooms was bottled water.
Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager of lobby group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, hit out at the Assembly spending.
He said: “Taxpayers will feel anything but refreshed upon learning that they’ve been forking out for indulgent Stormont committee catering.
“Whilst assembly members tucked in, households across Northern Ireland were served an economic crisis last year.
“MLAs must do a better job of eliminating waste and keeping costs down, starting with their own refreshments.”
The Northern Ireland Assembly has over the years defended its refreshments spending, saying that committee meetings can be lengthy and without breaks.
A spokeswoman said the Assembly Commission – a body comprising of MLAs from the five main parties which oversees the day-to-day running of Stormont – “requires that catering services are provided during business hours and for events/functions when applicable”.
The Commission seeks to “review the delivery of these services and to minimise costs, where possible”, she added.
Last March with the onset of the pandemic, Stormont stopped a long-running perk of providing mints in the assembly chamber for MLAs which had been costing up to £392 a year.
-- to www.belfastlive.co.uk