One in six Dutch schools has registered to receive free meals or financial support for pupils from poor backgrounds after the education ministry set aside €100 million to fund the project.
In total 1,302 schools have applied for help via the youth education fund Jeugdeducatiefonds and Red Cross. Pupils at the schools will get either free meals or a financial contribution towards the family groceries.
Schools can request inclusion if at least 30% of the children come from a low-income family. Most schools that have applied are in Noord and Zuid Holland, which are home to three of the big five cities.
Two-thirds of the schools have asked for free meals and will be given €9 per child per week to fund breakfast or lunch, or full fridges from which children can help themselves.
Volunteers will be drafted in to shop and make the sandwiches or schools can bring in an outside catering company, the education ministry said. The meals will be open to all pupils so as not to differentiate between children.
The rest of the schools have applied for €11 shopping vouchers which parents can ask for.
“Having enough food is a basic need when it comes to learning,” said youth education fund chief Hans Spekman.
“But we want to go further and make sure all children have a bed and can follow music lessons. We put a great deal of time, money and energy into creating equality of opportunity for all children, and you cannot have that on an empty stomach.”
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