As of the second semester of the 2022-2023 academic year, free meals will be provided to all students in kindergarten and nursery classes as part of the free meal application. In this way, the number of students benefiting from free food service in 81 provinces will increase from 1.8 million to 5 million.
“We made the necessary budget allocation to our schools”
Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer stated that they have completed the preparations for the free meals, which they will gradually implement for 5 million students as of February 6.
In his statement, Özer emphasized that the Ministry of National Education continues to support students with social policies to increase students’ access to education.
Stating that they accelerated the work on the recommendation decision on “providing free lunch or nutritional support in schools” at the 20th National Education Council convened in December 2021, and that they carried out the preparations on this subject with great care, Özer said, “The bussed education and training that has been implemented since the 1980s. The scope of the free meal service provided to students staying in hostels has been expanded day by day in the last 20 years.We have accelerated our efforts to provide free lunch to students within the framework of the Council’s decision.The number of students benefiting from free lunch, which is currently 1.5 million at the beginning of the academic year, has been increased to 1, We have increased it to 8 million. Now, we will work to increase this number to 5 million as of the second half of the academic year. Thus, we will have taken another concrete step in increasing the equality of opportunity in education.” he said.
Pointing out that the free food application to students is an important support application, Özer said that they have focused on increasing access to pre-school education in the last year and that they will start free food especially in preschool education, where development is the fastest.
Minister Özer stated that they will gradually increase the scope of the free meal program as of February 6, when the second academic year will begin, and continued as follows:
“Here, we will focus on pre-schools. We have sent the Meal/Nutrition Preparation and Distribution Guide, which includes the procedures and principles of the free meal application, to our 81 provinces for implementation. In this context, 5 days a week for our children in all pre-school education institutions attending official pre-school education institutions. We are starting the practice of providing one meal a day as of February 6. In this context, as of February 6, 1 million 450 thousand students attending public schools will start to benefit from one meal nutrition service.
Our students who attend primary schools with combined classrooms with nursery classes will also benefit from daily nutrition service. All our daytime students who receive education in regional boarding secondary schools and do not benefit from boarding services will also be provided with one meal a day, free of charge, nutritional support. Nutrition will be given to students in primary schools with multi-class classrooms with a kindergarten and daytime students studying in regional boarding secondary schools, in schools with suitable facilities on February 6th. In other schools, preparations will be completed and nutrition will be started as soon as possible.
Minister Özer noted the following regarding the details of the application:
“We have allocated the necessary budget to the relevant schools for the culinary needs of the kindergartens that will prepare meals in the school kitchen, and the schools and institutions that have a kindergarten. We will ensure that it is purchased and supplied.”
Sample menus have been prepared
In the Meal/Nutrition Preparation and Distribution Guide, nutrition service processes in schools were included in detail. These processes are “menu management”, “inspection processes (food safety and hygiene practices)”, “procurement and storage”, “production (preparation and cooking)”, “delivery of food / nutrition” and “after-service processes”. will consist of phases. The said guide was created with reference to the current legislation and studies of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
In order to meet the daily energy and nutrients adequately and in a balanced way, care will be taken to ensure that the foods that children should consume are of good quality and in sufficient quantities. Within the scope of nutrition services, menus will be planned in accordance with the principles of healthy nutrition, the nutritional content they will need will be met, as well as training will be provided to gain healthy eating habits.
Dietitian support for schools
While preparing the diet, attention will be paid to low salt consumption in accordance with the relevant programs of the Ministry of Health. No artificial sweeteners will be used in desserts.
The food and food groups that should be included in the menus for a healthy diet will be the milk and products group, the meat, egg, legumes and oilseeds group, the bread and cereals group, and the vegetables and fruits group, respectively.
The meals sent to the schools will be checked to see if they are suitable for the menu lists and weights determined weekly by the commission to be formed at the schools.
Sample menus in accordance with the principles of balanced nutrition were prepared for pre-school education institutions by the Ministry and sent to the provinces. The school, which will make its own menus, will receive dietitian support from provincial and district public health centers.
Breakfast will also be provided, menus will be published on the website.
On the other hand, the Ministry recommends using the lunch option in schools with regular education. In these schools, the breakfast menu can also be used in line with the decision to be taken with the families.
In the morning group of the schools that offer dual education, the breakfast menu or the lunch menu can be used by taking the opinions of the families and arranging the school’s feeding time according to the menu type.
It is recommended to use lunch menus in the afternoon groups of schools that offer dual education. According to the decision to be taken with the families, breakfast menus can also be used.
In addition, the weekly nutrition list, which will be prepared at schools with the support of a dietitian, will be published on the school’s website.
Commissions will be established
In each province and district, a commission consisting of at least one kindergarten principal, a school principal with a nursery class, and a school principal who produces nutrition, if any, will be established under the chairmanship of the deputy principal responsible for the basic education unit or the branch director. Guidance and supervision will be made by the Commission on the processes related to the program of providing a free meal at periodic intervals.
Permission will be obtained from the parents of the students who will buy food
During the planning, preparation and implementation of the process in schools, attention will be paid to cleanliness and hygiene. Permission documents will be obtained from the parents of the students who will be given free nutrition support. In the document, parents will declare in writing whether the student has any allergies or sensitivities related to nutrition.
In the determination of the food menus, the nutrition programs of the students with special conditions will be acted upon. The Ministry of National Education requested that all measures be taken by the governorships for the healthy and trouble-free execution of the program of providing a free meal. In the preparation and presentation of nutrition, the points specified in the Meal/Nutrition Preparation and Distribution Guide will be strictly followed.