Turkish association sues Education Ministry for free meal program to cover all students
An Ankara women’s association has filed a lawsuit against the Education Ministry for the free school meal program to be expanded to cover all students. The program, which came into effect this semester, currently encompasses students in preschool education or those who commute a long distance to school.
A women’s association has filed a lawsuit against the Education Ministry for one free meal to be provided at all schools.
The Ankara Tuzluçayır Women’s Solidarity said in their petition that several students are having problems in nutrition and that the state is obliged by the Constitution to ensure that children have access to healthy food.
“As per the principles of children’s health and welfare, improving their material and immaterial existence, and free education right, the obligation to ensure that children have sufficient, healthy and balanced diet belongs to the public authorities,” the petition said.
A lawyer on behalf of the association said that when raised the issue with the ministry last year, they were told that free meals would be provided only to children in preschool education or those who have to travel a long distance from home to school.
“This is not sufficient. Within the framework of education, the right to life and international agreements, this is a basic right. We have filed a lawsuit at the Ankara Administrative Court for this to be realized at all levels (for all students),” lawyer Elif Yetigin said, on behalf of the association.
For the past year, several teachers, especially from primary schools, have complained that some students spend the day in hunger because families cannot afford meals amid deteriorating financial problems.
In the face of these calls, the Education Ministry announced the implementation of a free meal program at schools that went into effect in the second semester of the 2022/2023 education year. However, the program does not cover all students, but only those attending preschool education or those who commute a long distance to school.