Who benefits from school lunches

No learning success without munching

The final preparations are in full swing. When the schools in Berlin open their doors again next Monday, there will also be a free school lunch for grades one to six. "The school lunch is offered," it says succinctly on the homepage of school senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD). But in Corona times, the conditions for the caterers and the operation of the canteens are a challenge. The tables must be set up according to the distance requirements. When the students move between the tables in the cafeteria, they are required to wear a face-to-face mask. "Mouth and nose protection is compulsory wherever learning groups meet," says State Secretary Beate Stoffers to "nd". Scheeres ’spokesman Martin Klesmann adds:" No buffet or food from bowls may be offered. "In addition, staggered break times are intended to ensure that the individual groups of students are served in the canteens one after the other as far as possible. All tables must be disinfected between use of the cafeteria. The specifications set out in the sample hygiene plan for the schools were fine-tuned to the last.

The free school lunch in Berlin has been around for a year. With the new school year, the quality of the food is to be increased further, the price per portion is to be increased gradually from 3.25 euros to 4.36 euros in the future. "Eating means sustainability, enjoyment, organic, fairly traded and fairly produced," says Raed Saleh about "nd". The SPD parliamentary group leader is probably one of the biggest political advocates of free education in the capital. Good educational conditions are a matter close to his heart, not least because of his own life story as a working-class child from poor backgrounds.

Before the corona crisis, 160,000 meals a day were offered to schoolchildren in Berlin, the number of meals served has increased significantly within a very short time after the introduction of free-of-charge. For Saleh, the free school ticket for local public transport as well as the free school lunch are "a huge success that makes me really proud as a social democrat". The vision of a city free of charge has become more tangible with the introduction of a free school lunch. Since spring, tenders for school lunches have been awarded for around 500 million euros for the next four years. Problems with anchoring the Berlin minimum wage of 12.50 euros in the tenders so that the food is also produced and offered fairly paid, were resolved in the spring. "That could be cured," says the press spokesman for the Senate Education Administration. Formally, the tenders are a matter for the twelve districts.

SPD parliamentary group leader Raed Saleh sharply rejects the fact that the high costs for free school lunches in the corona crisis could become the target of cutbacks - after all, there has always been criticism that wealthy parents also benefit financially from the relief: Rejection, at this point nothing will be reversed despite the corona crisis. "The free school lunch ultimately helps people in the corona crisis to make ends meet. "The real story is that no child has to watch another child eat." In addition, political projects such as the rent cap and free school meals are the best economic measures, according to the 43-year-old SPD politician. Parents save more than 1,400 euros a year per elementary school child thanks to the exemption from fees for school lunches, after-school care and BVG tickets - a lot of money that Saleh expects to be used to boost the domestic economy and thus support the economy. Saleh says: "The introduction of a free school lunch in grades one to six has not succeeded in any other federal state like Berlin, the other states envy us for it."

nd journalism from the left thrives on the commitment of its readers

In view of the experience of the corona pandemic, we have decided to make our journalism permanently freely accessible on our website and thus make it available to everyone who is interested.

As with our print and epaper editions, every published article contains our work as an author, editor, technician or publisher. It is what makes this journalism possible.

Volunteer now with just a few clicks!