Free school lunches will be rare this year in Latvia

In the following school year, free school lunches could only remain in 7 or 8 municipalities due to high prices, Ināra Dundure, advisor to the Latvian Association of Local Governments for Education and Culture, said in an interview on Latvian Radio on July 21.

With the rapid price increases, most municipalities have come to a dilemma about catering. While the State plans to raise its co-payment for catering to junior pupils, it will be too little to cover the full price of food during the autumn, and half the costs should also be borne by local governments.

The Jelgava municipality council will also decide on the introduction of parental co-financing. Mayor Madars Lasmanis said: “We are in front of a resolution – we have free lunch for all children at the moment. In view of the current market situation in the field of catering, we understand that, within the existing budget, we will not be able to provide free dining for all children by the end of this year, and a reassessment is ongoing."

Lasmanis said that it is likely that some of the children in Jelgava will need a co-payment from their parents for lunch, but there will also be a number of groups that will have discounts and free lunches.

Until now, in Jelgava county, one pupil's lunch costs a daily national amount of €1.42. Next year, the price will be higher at €2,10, and part of it would be parental payment, Lasmanis said.

Ināra Dundure, advisor to the Latvian Association of Local Governemnts, said that inflation is growing twice as fast as additional revenues in municipal budgets. Therefore, only seven or eight municipalities could maintain the free lunch. Several municipalities are evaluating the offer of free lunch by class group.

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