For tens of thousands of Spanish children from socially disadvantaged families, the daily hot meal is only a matter of course because they get lunch in the school canteens. But since mid-March all schools and kindergartens in Spain have been closed due to the coronavirus crisis and will probably not open again until the coming school year in autumn.
The Madrid regional government, like many other regions in Spain, promised support and daily free meals for the underprivileged families. The menu that the families were sent for the coming weeks caused horror for many parents: pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches, French fries, frozen croquettes. There was either lemonade or cola.
Surcharge for fast food chains
In the public tender for the production and distribution of the menus, the three Spanish fast food chains Telepizza, Viena Capellanes and the sandwich maker Rodilla made the cheapest offers and were awarded the contract by the regional government.
Then it became known that a Spanish banana producer from the Canary Islands had provided 12,000 bananas three times a week for the children free of charge. However, these had not been picked up from the Madrid warehouses and put in the food pack.
Contracts not renewed
Parent representatives and nutritionists raised the alarm. The leftist opposition in Madrid made the topic a political issue. Even the Spanish Ministry of Health asked the Madrid regional government to change the children’s meal plan.
The political and social pressures became so strong yesterday that Madrid’s regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso backpedaled and announced that the contracts with the three manufacturers would not be extended. From May 18, the affected children would receive age-appropriate and, above all, healthier menus.