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Kyrgyz government doubles budget for school meals

An additional 999.4 million soms were allocated to improve the quality of nutrition for primary school children. The relevant decree was signed by the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers, Akylbek Japarov.

In Kyrgyzstan, schoolchildren in grades 1-4 receive meals free of charge as the government provides funds from the state budget.

Previously, school lunches cost 7 soms per child daily. The amount has not changed for 18 years since 2006 (only in 2010 the amount was increased to 10 soms for schools in mountainous areas). Meanwhile, food prices kept rising. Due to a limited budget, schools were unable to provide kids with a diverse menu that could meet all of their nutritional demands. In these circumstances, the support offered by parents, who voluntarily contribute to improving school meals, is precious.

The government has made a significant effort to raise the nutritional standards for primary school-aged children. Deputy Minister of Finance Zhibek Duysheeva said, "We worked for a gradual increase in funding over two years. Thus, the 2024 budget envisages an amount of 14 soms per child daily.”

Currently, the amount educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan allocate to feed the children varies from 14 to 489 soms per child daily, depending on the social status of the attendees and the school type. For instance, meals cost 90 soms per child daily at regular boarding schools (except for stationary ones), 165 soms per child daily in sanatorium schools, and 489 soms per student at the Sheraly Sydykov Republican Sports College.

Proper and efficient organization of hot meals helps boost the country’s development. A study on the impact of school meals on children's academic progress conducted by the UN World Food Programme shows an increase in the level of education, as well as an improvement in the physical and psychological health of schoolchildren. They skip classes less as the school started providing hot meals, according to Pavel Popov, the headmaster of secondary school No. 1 in Orlovka.

Improving the quality of school meals is a crucial task for a country with more than 670 thousand schoolchildren. A nutritious and balanced diet helps preserve health and maintain the younger generation's good physical and mental activity.