COVID-19 and the closure of school canteens

Aggiornato il: 9 apr 2020

The suspension of teaching activities is the most evident consequence of the closure of the school facilities, but together with the schools they also close the canteens, with serious consequences for the poorest families.

The closure of schools in all parts of the world due to COVID-19 emergency has not only slowed down the functioning of the education system: it has also had serious consequences for the feeding of children.

As a result of the suspension of educational activities, almost half a billion children around the world lost access to the meals they received in school canteens. The effects of this situation on children from poorer families are extremely dangerous. For many of them, in fact, the school lunch is the only substantial meal of the day and depriving themselves of it means giving up essential nutrients that they cannot take otherwise.

It is not only children's health that is compromised by their lack of access to canteens, but also their families' budgets. For many of them, the value of a school meal represents about 10% of their monthly income. For the poorest families, it can be a burden that cannot be ignored.

One possible solution to stem the devastating effects of this emergency could be to make it possible for school canteens to continue to provide meals by delivering them directly to pupils' homes. This would ensure an essential service on which many families had modeled the management of their economic resources.

Another solution would be to provide meal vouchers of equivalent value to the lunch that the students would have taken at school. This would cushion the economic impact of this deprivation on family availability.

In any case, the situation we are experiencing requires that no aspect of the consequences of COVID-19 be left out, to avoid ignoring the fact that something as seemingly trivial as a school meal can become the discrimination between sustenance and destitution.