Schools call on next government to fund free school meals

A banana is fine: constant candies are not Photo:

The Red Cross, poverty campaign groups, food banks, and dozens of schools have written to the lower house of parliament calling for guarantees that free school lunches will still be provided next year.

Some 2,100 schools currently provide lunches for children after the scheme was launched almost two years ago, at a time when energy bills and inflation were soaring.

The lunches are aimed at children from low-income families but it is up to the schools themselves how to allocate the funding.

“Children are still growing up in poverty and the problems are worsening,” Hans Spekman from youth education charity Jeugdeducatiefonds, one of the organisers of the free meals programme.

While there is money for this year, nothing has so far been allocated for 2025, he said. “We can provide 350,000 children with lunch for €100 million,” he said. “Schools are now worried how they are going to deal with the situation next year.”

The new right-wing coalition is planning to cut spending on education.

Liberal Democratic party D66 is planning to submit a motion to parliament calling on MPs to back future funding for the school meals plan.

One in six schools

In total, one in six Dutch schools 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.

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.

The meals are open to all pupils so as not to differentiate between children.

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