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How can school meals lead to a better social inclusion?

Edited on

11 March 2020
Read time: 1 minute

With an inclusive approach, social intervention allows disadvantaged children to have access to healthy and sustainable school meals.

An original meals delivery system:

Since October 2016, Devenirs en Cuisine prepares and delivers meals mainly based on local and organic products to primary schools in neighbouring villages. Specific to Belgium, the «sandwich box» has been replaced by warm meals. Very few schools in rural areas still provide meals for children. Unlike its European neighbours, Pays des Condruses’ school canteens are not supported by the municipalities. The proposal of Devenirs en Cuisine was well accepted by the population but it remains a personal choice of parents to order or not a hot meal for their children.

A public support to include all children:

Despite the prices, which are as low as possible thanks to the reduction of food waste and the use of seasonal products, the cost of meals can be a barrier for some parents.

Inspired by the good practices shared within the BioCanteens network, the GAL Pays des Condruses and Devenirs en cuisine wanted to find a solution with the municipal social services, in order to enable children from less advantaged families to enjoy a healthy and balanced meal.

At the beginning, meetings were organised with social services in Anthisnes and Marchin (2 of the LAG’s municipalities), who directly decided to support the initiative because they are aware that the fight against children poverty is a very important issue.

Anthisnes’ social service conducted a survey to all the families who benefit from their intervention (social integration income, debt mediation, etc.) in order to know their interest in taking charge of a weekly school meal.

Since September 23rd 2019, Anthisnes' social service has been covering the entire cost of meals for 11 children. Of course this help is treated with complete discretion and the child is not distinguished from the others during the meal service.

Following Anthisnes’ positive experience, Marchin's social service should also start this process soon.

At the end of the school year, after evaluation with the first two social services, the initiative will be proposed to the other five social services in the territory to implement the same support system so that all children can benefit from healthy and sustainable meals.



Kathleen Vanhandenhoven: