«Free school lunch» served as idiom

Riik maksab koolilõunast kinni 78 senti. Et lõuna maksumus on enamasti poole suurem, peab ülejäänud osa tulema kas kohaliku omavalitsuse eelarvest või lastevanemate rahakotist.

PHOTO: Fotomontaaž

Though earlier announced by education ministry and its soc dem chief Jevgeni Ossinovski that this New Year extends free school lunch to gymnasium level, real life may be different. As explained by the ministry, «free school lunch» is actually a colloquial idiom in use over a decade.

For one school lunch, the state dishes out 78 cents while in Tartu, for instance, a school lunch costs €1.36, wrote Tartu Postimees. As declared by Tartu city government, the law amendment will not equal free meals for pupils, the budget for the year not having considered the cost. 

Last week, Mr Ossinovski told ETV news programme «Aktuaalne kaamera» that the political rhetoric was slightly overdone as free school lunches can only be offered to gymnasiums in cooperation with local governments.

Even so, the January issue of soc dems party paper again features the headline: «Education and research minister Jevgeni Ossinovski: free school lunches till end of gymnasium!»

To the knowledge of Postimees, it has been agreed at education ministry that from now on use of the term «free school lunch» will be discontinued and replaced by «school lunch support».

Earlier, however, education ministry had also announced free meals for gymnasiums. As an example of that, June 5th featured a press release headlined «Gymnasiums’ free school lunch bill reaches Riigikogu», and on October 22nd a release heralded «Minister Ossinovski: law amendment secures hot lunch even in gymnasium».

People from education ministry communication department said «free school lunch» is a colloquial idiom – and that for over ten years. As for children at basic school, 78 cents are provided for the food with local government paying up the rest so parents will not have to contribute.

«Now, the state grants support for free school lunch to be offered for every pupil at schools of general education. Local governments have indeed organised it differently and for the most part they do offer students lunches with a very low own financing or for free, the larger part thereof covered by the state’s school lunch support,» said an education ministry PR-consultant Asso Ladva.

Whether we were having to do with guaranteed free school lunch or not was also under discussion before the bill was being ratified at Riigikogu this past fall. On October 22nd, the parliament approved the Basic Schools and Upper Secondary Schools Act amendment by 80 votes.

Cost of food

  • School lunch support is 78 cents per school lunch of each student at basic schools and gymnasiums.
  • There is no separate state support for food in kindergartens. A local government may pay such support but it is not very often the practice. For the most part, it is the parents who pay for the food.
  • According to ministry of justice, €1.3 a day is spent to feed a prisoner.
  • According to Headquarters of Defence Forces, the daily catering of conscripts costs €5.55.
  • Should a person be hospitalised, Health Insurance Fund (the Haigekassa) will pay his bed-day fee. The cost of a bed-day for Haigekassa depends on the sickness that hospitalised the person. That will also determine what the patient is allowed to eat.

Source: Postimees