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June 26, 2019
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Czech region where evictions are underway keeps rejecting plans to subsidize lunches for impoverished schoolchildren

21.6.2018 11:20
The Ústecký Regional chair of the Green Party in the Czech Republic, Petr Globočník, speaking at the demonstration against decisions made by the City of Ústí nad Labem that could result in impoverished Romani residents having to move away from the city, 14 June 2018. (PHOTO:  Jan Mihaliček, Romea.cz)
The Ústecký Regional chair of the Green Party in the Czech Republic, Petr Globočník, speaking at the demonstration against decisions made by the City of Ústí nad Labem that could result in impoverished Romani residents having to move away from the city, 14 June 2018. (PHOTO: Jan Mihaliček, Romea.cz)

News server iDNES.cz reports that the Ústecký Regional Assembly has refused to support a motion from its Regional Council to allocate regional finances to cover the costs of lunches at school for children from impoverished families. The assembly members were especially bothered by the fact that the financing was to have been distributed through a nonprofit organization.

Allegedly the assembly members would have supported the motion if the financing were to be sent directly to schools. The region is also the only one in the country that has chosen not to join a different subsidy program of the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry financed from EU funds aimed exactly at support for children from low-income families whose parents cannot afford to subscribe to school lunch plans.

The Region claims to dislike the fact that the use of the money from the ministry is too narrowly circumscribed and that some needy people might not be eligible for it. "The conditions of the ministry's subsidy program are very strict," Lucie Dosedělová, spokesperson for the Regional Authority, told news server iDNES.cz.

"We realized there is a group in need that we wanted to give this aid to, but they would not have qualified under the ministry's program. We were interested in aiding single-parent households, not those on welfare," she said.

"We were concerned about families who take care of their children and who go to work, but they are exactly not the group that would be receiving lunch money, for example. We received feedback from the schools about who actually needs aid, that was important for us," the spokesperson said.

For that reason, the Regional Council decided to create its own school lunch program and wanted to allocate CZK 1 million [EUR 40 000] from the Regional budget for it. The assumption was that such money would support roughly 10 % of schoolchildren in the region.

The motion counted on the finances being redistributed to the schools through the nonprofit organization Women for Women, which already works in that area. That bothered some assembly members and they have rejected the motion repeatedly, even after the Regional Council reduced the amount of money asked for by half.

One assembly member who voted against the motion was the Deputy Mayor of Teplice, Hynek Hanza. "I am not against the Regional Authority contributing to lunches for children from low income families. However, I did not like us making that contribution to the Women for Women foundation, which has enough money to do that itself because it fundraises from business people, companies and music groups. Public financing from us is not something they need. If this were to be financed directly through the schools I wouldn't have a problem with it," he told iDNES.cz.

The Regional Councillors are not giving up their effort to secure funding from the regional budget for this purpose. According to a spokesperson for the Regional Authority they intend to rework the motion and submit it again to the assembly.

Die, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Děti, Dotace, MPSV, Ústí nad Labem



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