SCHOOLCHILDREN are to be offered three meals a day in an effort to tackle some of Andalucia’s worst childhood poverty.
The region’s socialist-led government has announced that breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served to pupils from Monday to Friday.
Andalucía is one of the regions worst hit by Spain’s economic crisis, with six out of every 100 of its children currently thought to be living below the poverty line, with parents on low wages or unemployed.
For many of these youngsters schools provide their only square meals of the day.
Some 200,000 pupils are already eating daily at school via a coupon system – more than double the number in 2008.
The government plans to increase the amount it spends on school meals from €7.5 million to €8.5 million this year.
The introduction of three school meals a day is the first stage in a €100 million package aimed at alleviating undernourishment and poverty in Andalucía.
The second stage involves a job stimulus programme and the third will make it easier for families to access financial help.
Childhood poverty in Spain rocketed by 45 per cent during the first two years of the economic crisis, a study by the Observatorio Social de España and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) revealed at the end of 2012.
It found that Spanish children were among the hardest hit in Europe during the early days of the economic crisis.
Although the scheme in Andalucía will operate in term times, the Canary Islands are now planning to open schools throughout the summer to ensure children are being fed.