QCOSTARICA – The decision by the Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación Pública – MEP) to keep the school lunch rooms open between the school year ensures that some 41,226 primary and secondary school students get at least one good meal a day.
For some the only meal of the day.
At an investment of ¢731 million colones (US$1.4 million dollars), covered by the MEP budget, the program allows the lunch rooms at 121 schools to stay open between December 10 and February 5, 2016. (The school year in Costa Rica is from February to December).
Talking to La Nacion, Maritza Amador says the keeping the lunch room open is a blessing. “I save three meals a day, so that I don’t have to ask for credit. I have been able to reduce my debt at the pulpe (pulperia or corner store),” said the mother of three.
Shileydi Tercero, the kitchen coordinator at the La Carpio school says that of the 300 children enrolled for the meals, more than 200 a day receive them.
“I did not think that so many children would come to eat during vacation. There are little ones that we know this is their only mean of the day; what we do is fill their plates so they go home full. Other children ask for seconds; we never deny a second plate. They come very hungry,” said Tercero.
María Auxiliadora Lacayo is another mother, also in La Carpio, who has not missed a day since the local kindergarten opened the lunch room.
The savings, says Lacayo is six meals a day, allowing the humble family to save for a proper dinner.
“The household finances have not gone so well; I receive about ¢100,000 colones (US$190) to feed a house of eleven, including my sister and her husband, who barely make enough to live on. Many times all we have for breakfast is a baguette, split between all of them (…),” relates Lacayo.
For this woman, buying a piece of meat, chicken or beef, is impossible. Last year she did not have the burden of providing meals for her children during the schoole break, they went to visit their dad. But this year, he is not close. And has lost his job.
“I’m worried because he lost his job and don’t think he can send me alimony in the coming months,” said Lacayo.
“The children are very grateful for the food. They are happy here,” said Tercero.
Source: La Nacion