China / Government

Free lunch program to shift plans

By Huang Yuli ( Updated: 2012-07-12 21:49

The charity program Free Lunch For Children under the China Social Welfare Foundation will alter its strategy this year, said Deng Fei, founder of the organization, at the China Charity Fair in Shenzhen on Thursday.

The program has drawn much attention to Deng, a journalist at the magazine Phoenix Weekly. And another 500 journalists used micro blogs last April to publicize the program, which is mainly used to help primary schools in remote villages provide lunches to students.

In poor places, many schools do not have enough money to build canteens. Students' difficulties in getting food have even caused some of them to drop out. The program calls for netizens to donate 3 yuan (47 cents), the cost of a lunch for a child.

Deng and the charity staff have published information on micro blogs about how the donations were used and that such transparent explanations have brought a lot of support to the program. According to Xiao Longjun , head of the program’s management committee, the program had received more than 31 million yuan in donations by the end of June.

It has also caught the attention of policymakers. In October 2011, the State Council released a nutrition improvement plan for children in rural areas. It called on the central government to provide 16 billion yuan in subsidies every year to students in rural areas in their years of compulsory education.

Each person is to receive 3 yuan a day.

Now that the government is involved in the project, Deng and his colleagues are having to decide where to take it next.

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