Education Ministry to Offer Free Lunch to Undernourished Students on WeekendsStarting this weekend, about 164,000 children across the nation, who are going without meals, will be able to receive staple and subsidiary food ingredients, exchange tickets for agricultural products from their schools and local town and village offices, or take meals at designated restaurants.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Education held a meeting of officials from 16 municipal and provincial education offices as well as 180 regional education offices, which are in charge of supplying lunch to school students. Vice Education Minister Kim Sang-kwon presided over the meeting to finalize plans on giving free lunch to undernourished children on Saturdays and legal holidays.
The new measures were devised on the heels of criticism of the government's failure to keep an earlier promise to give free lunches to underprivileged children on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as dinner to preschool children, beginning in March.
According to the new plans, regional offices of education and local autonomous bodies will take measures starting in April to help students who are going without meals. The measures include delivering staple and subsidiary food ingredients to the students, giving them exchange tickets for agricultural produce, allowing them to have meals at designated restaurants or having lunch boxes delivered through local social welfare centers and youth centers. If the students are using restaurants designated by the local town or village office, their schools will issue meal tickets so that they can eat on weekends.
An official at the Ministry of Education said, "Each district will choose whatever method is mort appropriate to ensure that no student goes hungry." He added that regional offices of education would be using meal subsidies of 41.4 billion Won to finance the costs of offering free lunch on weekends.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Moon Yong-lin plans to make personal visits on April 1 and 2 to confirm proper execution of the meal-subsidy measures.
by Kang Hong-joon