1.4 mln preschool students to benefit from free meals

1.4 mln preschool students to benefit from free meals

1.4 mln preschool students to benefit from free meals

As of Feb. 6, when the semester break ends, 1.4 million preschool students will benefit from free meals, and then this number will gradually increase to 5 million.

Education Minister Mahmut Özer stated that while his ministry has focused on increasing access to preschool education since the last year, they decided to start the free meal application from the pre-school period, when children’s’ body and mind developments are the fastest.

“We are launching the application of providing one free meal a day, five days a week, to all our children attending preschool educational institutions as of Feb. 6,” Özer said.

Students who attend primary schools with a combined model consisting also preschool will be able to benefit from a daily nutrition service.

Students who receive education in regional boarding secondary schools will also be provided with free meals.

Özer also pointed out that his ministry has worked to increase the number of students benefiting from free meals, which is approximately 1.5 million, to 5 million.

Giving information about the preparation of meals, Özer stated that the ministry allocated the necessary budget for the culinary needs of preschools who will cook in their own kitchens.

For schools that are not able to prepare food in their kitchens, the ministry will ensure that the food service will be supplied from culinary vocational high schools, teachers’ houses and other public institutions that prepare meals.

Menus set with advice of nutritionists

While preparing the nutrition menus, attention will be paid to low salt consumption in accordance with the relevant programs of the Health Ministry. Artificial sweeteners will not be used in desserts.

The menus will consist of dairy products, meat, eggs, dried legumes, oilseeds, bread, cereals, vegetable and fruit groups which must be included in a healthy diet.

The ministry sent sample menus created with the recommendations of nutritionists to preschools in all 81 provinces.

Schools that determine their own menus will receive dietician support from provincial and district public health centers.

Weekly nutrition lists will be published on the schools’ website.

When determining the meal menus, for students who have intolerance for certain foods or other special conditions, different nutrition programs will be arranged in accordance with them.

It will be mandatory for preschools to obtain permission for food service from the parents of students.

Within this scope, 189,000 students in preschools in Istanbul will benefit from free meals.