Our German member Diakonie Deutschland has recently raised its concerns with the federal authorities that children in need and their families need to receive direct financial compensation if the free school meals are not provided due to school closure.
Diakonie Deutschland highlighted that when schools are closed due to COVID-19, families whose children qualify for free meals are provided neither with food vouchers nor with any other forms of compensation.
“Children experiencing poverty need to have lunch even if they are not at school and they are on online education due to the COVID-19 restrictions,” says Maria Loheide, Director of Social Policy at Diakonie Deutschland.
The current regulation stipulates that if the classes are cancelled, families are not entitled to any food allowance, but meals are delivered to their children at home instead. “This regulation completely ignores reality and it is not working at all,” says Mrs. Loheide. “School caterers do not deliver meals to pupils individually free school meals provided within the framework of the German school lunch programme no longer reach children in need, even though they urgently need a daily warm meal at home. “
The Federal Government, for its part, stated that it owned no information on this topic since regions are responsible for education and school lunch programmes.
Diakonie Deutschland has also highlighted how during the first lockdown the right to free school meals saw a worrying 17% decrease.
“Apparently, in several regions, the applications for free school meals were no longer processed due to the temporary closures. Children and teenagers have been deprived of their right to free school meals and no alternatives were put into place, ” says Mrs. Loheide. The current lockdown measures will probably lead to an additional inexcusable decrease.
To know more about Diakonie Deutschland’s advocacy actions on this topic, have a look at our member’s website.