Sri Lanka is to initiate a nationwide programme offering free meals to students in Grades 1 to 5 from this week, Education Minister Susil Premajayantha said.

According to Premajayantha, the programme aims to benefit over 1.6 million children attending 9,134 State schools and smaller institutions with less than 100 students. Operating from 7.30 a.m. to 8.00 a.m. daily, the programme will ensure that all primary students have access to a nutritious meal.

The Government has allocated Rs 16.6 billion for this endeavour with the possibility of additional support from the World Food Programme and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Acknowledging the increase in food costs, the Government has raised the meal budget per student from Rs 85 rupees to Rs 110, the Minister said.

On 3 October 2022, Cabinet approved a proposal submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to take appropriate steps to provide a wholesome lunch to an additional one million schoolchildren, further extending the programme.

A statement released by the Department of Information on 4 October 2022, highlighted the Government’s commitment to eradicating poverty and to address nutritional concerns through immediate implementation of programmes.

The statement said, “The Government annually implement the school lunch programme aimed at 1.08 million students in 7,926 schools, spending Rs 4 billion. Under the policy of eradicating poverty, the Government expects to immediately implement programmes aimed at addressing concerns raised over nutrition.

Accordingly, Cabinet approved the proposal submitted by President Wickremesinghe to take steps to provide a wholesome lunch to another one million schoolchildren, further extending the school lunch programme which is already being implemented based on district-level data on poverty and nutrition.”



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