Minister for Human Resources Zoltán Balog stated in a “background discussion” on Tuesday that from September of this year “there will not be a single child in Hungary who will not have three meals a day because of his/her family’s financial situation.”
Balog said the government has increased the amount of money to feed children by 25 percent. By 2016 the government will be spending HUF 72 billion (USD 260 million) on feeding programs for children.
In order to guarantee that all children from the age of 3 are being fed, the government must ensure that all children are either in kindergarten or school, Balog said. Furthermore, children must be able to eat for free in school.
His statement amounts to government acknowledgment of the fact that in Hungary today one in three children are living in poverty due in large part to the government having cut social welfare spending at a time when most other EU member states increased social welfare spending.
Károly Czibere, the ministry’s state secretary for social affairs and social mobility, said that until now 92,000 children were provided free meals in nurseries and kindergartens. Starting in September the number of children receiving free meals will increase to 320,000.
Katalin Novák, the ministry’s state secretary for youth affairs, said the meal program will help offset Hungary’s growing income inequality because it will help alleviate serious financial burdens on Hungarian families.
Novák said that, on average, a family with two children can save as much as HUF 15,000 every month with the government’s planned meal program.
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