Free school meals: caring for the future of our country

Free school meals: caring for the future of our country

19.09.2022 0 By admin

The development of school programs requires high mental activity from children. At the same time, a small person, joining knowledge, continues to grow and develop, which should be supported by timely and full-fledged hot meals. Understanding this, from the spring of 2020, breakfasts for children studying in the first shift and lunches for those studying in the second shift have become free.

Free food these days

School meals by law

Free meals for schoolchildren
since 2020, meals for primary school students have become free.

The issues of organizing baby food in the Russian Federation have been regulated for many years within the framework of the federal law “On Education in the Russian Federation” (No. 273-FZ). School cafeterias were subject to federal safety regulations, but food provision was the sole responsibility of the schools.

Meals were mostly paid: many remember how teachers collected money for school lunches. However, this state of affairs, starting in 2020, began to change radically.

Free hot lunch – under the control of the state

On January 15, 2020, in his message to the Federal Assembly, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin set the task of providing all primary school students with free hot meals at least once a day.

On September 1, 2020, amendments to the federal law on education came into force, which affected the procedure for providing free meals to younger students.

According to the order of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, until September 1, 2023, each junior student from grades 1 to 4 must be provided with at least one hot meal per day (not counting a hot drink).

At the moment, more than 7.5 million schoolchildren in grades 1-4 (99.8%) receive free breakfast or lunch. The work is carried out within the framework of the state program “Development of Education”.

In accordance with the new SanPiN

From January 1, 2021, the issues of catering for children in schools are regulated by the new SanPiN 2.3 / 2.4.3590-20 (“Sanitary and epidemiological requirements for the organization of public catering of the population”). This document also lists all food requirements, including allowed and prohibited foods.

Free meals for “special” children in the 2022-2023 school year

From September 1, 2022, a bill will come into force that defines the requirements for the provision of free meals for children with disabilities, regardless of the form of education. Now such students should receive either free two-time hot meals or monetary compensation. The amount of compensation is set by each region independently.

How much is free food

Money for free meals for schoolchildren comes from the state budget at various levels.

In 2020, more than 22 billion rubles were allocated to provide primary school students with hot meals, in 2021 – more than 59 billion rubles. In 2022, it is planned to allocate more than 63.2 billion rubles for these purposes.

The cost of meals per student per day may vary by region. It depends on the prices of the products recommended for the menu. In addition, the cost also includes payment to companies for catering services.

For example, in Tula, 74 rubles are allocated for breakfast for a schoolchild (with two meals a day – 148 rubles). In Moscow, breakfast costs 49 rubles (with two meals a day – 142 rubles). In St. Petersburg, the cost of breakfast is 68.5 rubles, lunch – 119.5 rubles.

Who is entitled to free meals in the school cafeteria

Who is eligible for free school meals?
Free meals are received by students in grades 1-4 and those who are entitled to benefits.

Primary school students

Free full-fledged hot meals should be organized for students from grades 1 to 4. Each junior student should receive free of charge either a hot breakfast (for the first shift) or a hot lunch with soup (for the second shift).

Preferential categories of students

As for the provision of free meals to students in grades 5-11, the following can apply for it:

  • students with disabilities;
  • children from large families;
  • schoolchildren from among orphans³.

Additional preferential categories are formed by local governments. Details can be clarified in the educational organization or social security authorities.

The most common beneficiaries include:

  • poor families;
  • families with a disabled child;
  • families who are in a difficult life situation;
  • beneficiaries of a survivor’s pension;
  • children from foster families;
  • children whose parent or both parents are disabled.

Free three meals a day are also provided to students of Suvorov schools and institutions of round-the-clock stay.

In St. Petersburg, beneficiaries are separately allocated, who can receive up to 70% of the cost of food. Among them:

  • children registered in a tuberculosis dispensary;
  • student with chronic diseases;
  • students of sports and cadet classes.

Meals on an extension

If a student attends an extended day group, in addition to breakfast, parents can order lunches and afternoon snacks for him. True, you have to pay extra for them.

How to apply for free or reduced-price meals for a student

Getting Free Meals

No special application is required to receive free meals for students in grades 1-4.

Parents can submit a free-form application to the school, which indicates specific information about the health status of their children (allergies, food intolerances, special dietary needs, etc.).

Registration of preferential meals

The rules for applying for reduced-price meals may differ depending on the region.

According to the law, you can arrange everything directly at the school by contacting the administration of the educational organization. If they refuse, you will have to contact the social security authorities at the place of residence.

Muscovites can apply for reduced-price meals for schoolchildren through the website. For this you need:

  • prepare supporting documents;
  • fill out an application for food on budgetary funds.

Documents confirming the preferential status of the family are attached to the application. After reviewing the documents, the applicant is issued a certificate confirming his preferential status, which must be handed over to the class teacher.

Documents for receiving preferential meals

To prove your eligibility for free meals, you will need the following documents:

  • free food application
  • birth certificate of the child;
  • SNILS;
  • certificates of family income for the last 3 months (to confirm the status of a low-income family);
  • certificate of a large family;
  • certificate from the ITU (medical and social examination) on disability;
  • certificate from the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation (Pension Fund of the Russian Federation) on receipt of a pension for the loss of a breadwinner.

Free food waiver

Free breakfast… Can I refuse it? Yes. If parents want their child to eat exclusively home-cooked meals at school, they can write a waiver to the principal.

Features of school meals

Who feeds our children

Free school meals which includes
The main rule of nutrition in school is that it should be balanced.

Educational authorities are responsible for organizing meals in schools. The law allows several options, namely:

  • the staff of the educational institution has its own chefs,
  • the school canteen is outsourced (obtaining certain services or works) to a company or individual entrepreneur.

Basic requirements for school meals

The diet of schoolchildren is selected in accordance with their age.

The main rule for compiling a school menu: baby food should be balanced. That is, it should include protein foods, meat and dairy products, dietary fiber.

For each age group, an approximate menu should be developed for at least two weeks, taking into account the needs of children in proteins, fats, carbohydrates and trace elements, as well as in accordance with the rational distribution of daily calories.

  1. A student’s breakfast must include at least one hot meal and a drink.
  2. Lunch may consist of two or one course (for example, only the main course).
  3. The menu should be varied. It is unacceptable to serve one dish for several days.
  4. Scheduling breakfasts and lunches is the responsibility of the educational institution.
  5. The school must publish the daily menu on the website without fail.

If the student needs individual meals

The school must also respect the interests of children who, for health reasons, are supposed to have therapeutic and / or dietary nutrition.

When organizing public catering for children in need of medical and dietary nutrition, in organized children’s groups, the following requirements of SanPiN must be observed.

  • organization of medical and dietary nutrition in accordance with the prescriptions of the attending physician;
  • it is allowed for children in need of medical and dietary nutrition to eat ready-made home-cooked meals in the dining room or in specially designated rooms (places) equipped with a refrigerator and microwave ovens for heating dishes.

Drinking regime

According to SanPiN, the drinking regime for students must be observed in all educational organizations without exception. Schools should either have water coolers installed or water should be provided to schoolchildren in industrial bottles.

Food quality control

Schools and other educational institutions are responsible for the organization and quality of meals for students.

Who makes the school menu

Free meals in schools for large families
Parents have the right to control the nutrition of their child at school and, in case of violations, submit an electronic appeal through the State Services.

The menu compiled by the chef must be agreed with the administration of the general educational organization.

If a company or an individual entrepreneur is engaged in feeding schoolchildren, then it is they who make up the menu, and then coordinate it with the school management.


The responsibilities of the school include the so-called grading of finished products – taking a sample from a dish to check its compliance with the established appearance and taste.

For this purpose, a special commission is created annually, which consists of three people (at least!). This commission includes:

  • school principal (or his deputy);
  • medical worker;
  • teachers;
  • cooks;
  • representatives of the parent committee.

The scrapping commission controls all aspects of the work of the catering unit, the quality of products. Monitors the correctness of the preparation of the daily menu, the timing of the implementation of dishes, and also takes samples 30 minutes before the start of their implementation.

Parental control

In recent years, one of the tasks of the Russian Ministry of Education has been the introduction of parental control over catering in schools.

Parents have the right to exercise parental control over the organization and quality of school meals, including through electronic appeals at the State Services.

Parents can control the quality of nutrition of schoolchildren using a digital system of automated nutrition monitoring, to which more than 90% of Russian schools are connected⁹. Now every parent can get complete information about their child’s nutrition.

To whom to complain in case of violations

In the vast majority of cases, it is enough for parents to contact the school management or the governing council, that is, discussing the problem directly with the executor.

If serious violations are identified and the representatives of the school refuse to eliminate them, it is necessary to contact such relevant authorities as:

  • Ministry of Education;
  • Department of Education;
  • Rospotrebnadzor;
  • prosecutor’s office.

You can complain about the organization of hot meals at school to the hotline of the Ministry of Education (8 (800) 200-91-85) or write online.

For any questions related to the provision of meals at school, you can contact the ONF (All-Russian People’s Front). Hotline number “School Breakfast”: 8 (800) 200-34-11. You can also file a complaint or ask a question on the website of this social movement.

Should we wait for changes in the free food system?

Of course, the opportunity not to pay for meals at school makes life much easier for families with elementary school students. What about high school students? Isn’t it time to think about them too?

As it turns out, we’ve already thought about it! The State Duma is now considering a bill that deals with free hot meals for all children from grades 1 to 9, regardless of the availability of benefits.

However, according to experts, the prospects for the adoption of this bill are still ambiguous, since it will require at least a double burden on the federal budget.

Photo: ©