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Finnish cities keep up free school lunch practice despite lockdown

Authorities want to assist families who might be struggling to feed their children while schools are closed

  • April 15, 2020 14:30
  • Author Anton Stoyanov
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With schools around Europe being shut down, families have found a new problem on their hands – namely their children spending all of their time locked at home without anywhere to go and anything to do, other than distance learning.

The problem is exacerbated even further for low-income families who have always been struggling to keep food on the table. Not only is their livelihood threatened by the economic downturn, but the lack of free school lunches for their kids has made things even harder. That is why cities across Finland aim to keep the practice going despite the closure of most schools.

Authorities aiding the most vulnerable

According to the Finnish National Education Agency, the 70-year-old free meal school system serves some 830,000 lunches to students in basic education per year – yet barely 7% of the Finnish school population attends schools in person as of this moment. Nonetheless, even those taking part in remote education are still entitled to free lunches and cities and municipalities are eager to provide.

In Espoo, for example, authorities are delivering snacks at various distribution points around the urban area, where children can get light snacks every day between 12:30 and 13:30. In order to be eligible, however, parents must first register their children by using Wilma – the Finnish nation-wide homeschool communication system.

Meanwhile, in Vantaa, no registration is required at all. Citizens can pick up two weekly packages of foodstuffs for their children from the municipal offices on Tuesdays and Thursday.

In Tampere, authorities are on the lookout for delivery solutions as the takeaway options have not been particularly popular with locals with barely 35-40 children coming to get their meals each week. Finally, in Turku, children are entitled to free meals so long as they register by email by 10 AM on the preceding day.

With cities actively implementing and improving their social policies, they are unequivocally also alleviating some of the burden on local families, thus helping them survive in these turbulent times. 

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