500,000 children have feeding problems in summer
The NGOs calculate that, at least, about 500,000 children have feeding problems every summer when closing the schools. For this reason, the autonomous communities, councils and municipalities have opened the canteens of some schools to feed children of the most disadvantaged families during the summer. In some places, a home catering service is also included.
The data from the last INE Living Conditions Survey indicate that, in 2013, more than a third of Spain's children lived at risk of poverty. In this same line, according to the report Childhood, poverty and economic crisis, from the collection of Social studies at la Caixa published last June, 1 out of every 3 children lives below the poverty line in Spain, and one out of every 10 is poor.
The map of the dining rooms for children in summer
The configuration of the map of the social dining halls in Spain is not homogeneous, since not all the autonomous communities have collected the request to open the schools to alleviate the feeding problems in summer of the most disadvantaged children. The autonomous communities that have just opened the summer school canteens to give a meal to the children who need it are Alicante, Andalusia, the Canary Islands, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid and the Valencian Community.
Two autonomies, Asturias and Galicia have decided one more year not to organize summer dining rooms, however they have agreed to lend the educational facilities of their ownership to the municipalities that want to organize summer dining rooms to minimize the problems of feeding children. Among the Communities that have decided not to open the school canteens is also Cantabria.
New debate: alternatives to school canteens
Thanks to this measure, many children will have their food problem addressed, but at the same time a debate has been opened about the convenience of social canteens. Thus, Unicef appreciates that the problem is urgently addressed, but clarifies that these measures may stigmatize the child and that they would be resolved with alternatives such as the inclusion of beneficiaries in programs for children who do not have those needs or supports for the family. .
Social canteens respond to needs that, as an emergency measure, may be adequate, but must be done in a way that children are not signaled, through camps or aid to their families. Children have to enjoy their vacations and eat at home.
Among the proposals to normalize these initiatives, Unicef advocates for the inclusion of minors in urban summer camps, which are held for aspects more related to labor conciliation, or family support policies.
Marisol Nuevo Espin