Hungry children receive free, hot meals at convenience stores
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A total of 86 schoolchildren went to convenience stores for free meals in New Taipei City yesterday, the first day of the city's free meal program.
January 2, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
City officials determined that 31 of the students were from high-risk families in need of special care.
The city government launched the program on New Year's Day in cooperation with four convenience store chains — 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life and OK Mart.
The program aims to give timely aid to children so that their lives and studies will not be affected by hunger.
Officials said the scheme will also help identify children from high-risk families that need help.
Two brothers, one first grader and one fourth grader, from the same family went to a store at around 8 p.m. and were provided with hot meals after explaining that their grandmother was unable to cook for them due to a sudden surge in hypertension.
The two boys enjoyed a hot meal of steamed buns for dinner and politely thanked the store clerks afterward.
The program enables the staff of the city, school officials and teachers, and convenience store staff to work together to help identify disadvantaged students who cannot get adequate food due to abrupt changes or emergencies at home, said officials at the city's Department of Education.
The initiative will not only provide temporary meals for needy children but also prompt staff at government agencies to take active steps to offer long-term assistance to dysfunctional families due to troubles encountered by adults, they said.
Mayor Chu Li-luen and his colleagues came up with the idea of launching the free meal program in September last year after some starving schoolchildren were found to have stolen food from stores,
Following coordination with companies operating the convenience stores, the city government formally started the project yesterday and began to pick up the tabs for the meals consumed at the stores by qualified students on nonschool days.