France to invest €6 million in free breakfasts at public schools

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A number of French public schools have begun serving free breakfast to students as part of a new government programme aimed at improving student performance by combatting hunger.

French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Junior Health and Solidarity Minister Christelle Dubos announced €6 million in initial funding for the free breakfast programme.

The programme will be put in place at public schools that have been identified as “priority education network” establishments as well as in some poor urban neighbourhoods and rural areas.

An estimated 13 percent of students in schools identified as part of the “priority education network” arrive in the morning on an empty stomach. Studies have shown that skipping breakfast can leave children hungry and easily distracted, making it harder for them to participate in the classroom.

A pilot programme was launched earlier this month in eight areas where schools are already working to serve students a healthy, free meal in the morning: Amiens, the overseas territory of La Réunion, Lille, Montpellier, Nantes, Reims, Toulouse and Versailles.

The programme will be expanded nationwide in the fall, and is expected to provide breakfast to as many as 100,000 schoolchildren once fully operational.

Via France 24

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