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Free Hot Meals for Schoolchildren an “Equality Issue”

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Free Hot Meals for Schoolchildren an “Equality Issue”

Children in Iceland

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The elementary school in the East Iceland village of Eskifjörður is working to reduce the cost of school lunches for its students and hopes to soon make all hot meals free, RÚV reports. The principal considers free hot lunches a “very important equality issue” facing the Fjarðarbyggð municipality as a whole.

Currently, students in the Fjarðarbyggð municipality pay ISK 450 [$4.06; €3.49] a day for lunches, which in Eskifjörður, generally include fish. This comes out to roughly ISK 9,000 [$81.23; €69.91] a month per student. Principal Birgir Jónsson says that it’s come to the school’s attention, however, that not all families can afford the monthly cost of school lunches and so choose to send their children with bag lunches instead. Some parents may have other reasons for sending their kids to school with bag lunches, he acknowledges, but there are special occasions where eating a hot meal together is more of a social event, and all students should be able to take part then. “We’ve noticed that especially when there’s something like pizza or things like that, then, of course, everyone wants to [have the hot lunch].”

As a first step to addressing the problem, therefore, the school will be reducing the cost of school lunches to ISK 300 [$2.70; €2.33] starting on October 1, 2018. The intention, says Fjarðarbyggð town council foreman Eydís Ásbjörnsdóttir, is to ensure that “...all kids are sitting at the same table and have the chance to get a hot and nutritious meal.”

The municipality is taking steps to make school lunches completely free within the current election cycle.

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