France doubles free school breakfasts and €1 meals

Free school breakfasts and canteen lunches costing just €1 are to be rolled out to 200,000 pupils across France this year, almost double the number who received them last year, the government has said.

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In 2019, 110,000 maternelle (reception) and primary school pupils in underprivileged areas received the meals. The government is aiming for the scheme to cover almost twice that this year.

In 2020, the budget for the free breakfast scheme will be €12 million - twice that of 2019.

To qualify, schools must be located in an eligible area - including in a priority education area (une zone REP (réseau d'éducation prioritaire), or in a given rural area.

The “canteen meals for €1” scheme will also be extended to maternelle pupils, with a budget of €5 million.

The scheme means the State will help to pay for school canteen lunchtime meals, if the commune helps out by putting a three-tier payment system in place - with the lowest tier costing a maximum of €1 per meal per child.

The changes were confirmed in a press release from national education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and junior health minister Christelle Dubos.

They said: “[We celebrate] the good results from putting these measures in place in 2019”, and said they intended for “40,000 [more] pupils to benefit [from €1 canteen lunches specifically] in 2020”.

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