The ‘hot meal law’ was enacted 15 years ago, anchoring the right of hundred of thousands of children to eat one hot meal a day. Yet its still entails some challenges, including expanding it to all children suffering from nutrition insecurity and improving the quality of sustenance.
By Yonit Naaman and Tammy Riklis
In 2004 Israel passed the Hot Meal Law. The law, a result of work done by different parties in the civil society, led by the “Yadid” organization, stated that students in kindergartens and schools under the Israeli Ministry of Education, will be provided with a hot meal daily during long school days. A conference marking 15 years since the law was passed was held at the end of the month; the conference focused on expanding the law’s implementation and the challenges still faced by the state and local authorities.
While the beginning of the project saw only 60,000 of Israel’s school children able to enjoy a hot meal, today the number has already reached 230,000 – under an overall budget of a billion shekels. According to a document published a year ago by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, in 2015-2016 there were 673 institutions eligible for the program, feeding a total of 235,725 students. In fact, only 458 institutions and 119,145 students participated in the program. According to the Ministry of Education’s data, we learn that this year, 160,000 students and 236,000 pre-schoolers are being fed.
This, of course, is far from enough. According to data from 2016, the number of students suffering from nutrition insecurity is 352,000 out of the 2 million students in the Israeli education system. Hundreds of thousands more suffer from light or mild nutrition insecurity. The law is implemented in only 100 out of 256 local authorities. Why, then, are there still children of low socio-economic status who do not receive a hot meal?
According to a report titled “Food for Thought: On the Feeding Programs in Israeli Schools,” published last year by the National Council for Nutrition Security in Israel and Yadid, three governmental programs provide hot meals to Israeli students today: the feeding program, the MILAT program, and TZILA. The average cost of meal per student is 12 shekels. Funding for the feeding program is provided by the Ministry of Education with the participation of relevant local authorities, according to the socio-economical cluster to which they belong. Local authorities must first fund 10 percent of the feeding program’s costs, while parental...Read More