City of Antwerp to invest 40 million euro in healthy school meals

The city authorities in Antwerp have announced that 40 million euro is to be spent to ensure the provision of heathy school meals. All nursery and primary schools will be able to apply for funding to help pay for healthy meals for their pupils. Around 65,000 children attend nursery and primary schools in Antwerp. It will be up to the schools how the use the funding. 

They could use the cash to help pay for the provision of a healthy lunch, a nutritious breakfast or healthy snacks for their pupils. It will be also up to schools to decide whether they will ask parents to make a financial contribution.

Not every child goes to school with a well-filled lunchbox. Many children also take unhealthy things with them to school for their lunch. This can even be cold chips or a slice of cold pizza. In order to ensure that every child in the city is able to eat healthy food, the city authorities in Antwerp have decided to invest 40 million euro in health eating projects in the city’s schools.

All the city’s nursery and primary schools can apply to the project for funding. The “Tasty School” project has already had a trial run in a few of Antwerp’s schools. It is now being extended to nursery and primary school in the city.

It will be up to each school to decide how they use the funding and whether or not parents will be asked to make a financial contribution.

The Antwerp City Alderman responsible for Education and Youth Jinnih Beels (socialist) told VRT Radio 2 that "The school will decide itself and will be able to ask parents to contribute, if they feel that the budget that they receive from the city, around 1 euro per child, is insufficient. The city doesn’t want to make things free, but rather to make them affordable".

Schools will be able to request funding from the project from 1 February 2022. Those that do so in February or March 2022 will be able to start providing their pupils with healthy meals and/or snacks from the start of the school year on 1 September.

The schools will be helped when making their application. Although they are not obliged to take part in the projects the city authorities warmly encourage them to do so.  

Ms Beels told VRT Radio 2 that "There is a problem in Antwerp. This isn’t just about empty lunchboxes and family poverty, but also about households with one or two earners that don’t have the time to provide their children with a healthy meal. We want to reach them too. We would like to reach the 65,000 children that are pupils at nurseries and primary schools in Antwerp. The more schools sign up to the project, the more children will be able to enjoy a healthy and varied meal.” 

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