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Free school meals for all elementary students implemented in Seoul


08:52, November 02, 2011

SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Public elementary schools in Seoul started to provide all students with free lunches on Tuesday, marking the first policy change after Park Won-soon, the new mayor of Seoul, took office.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said 518,000 students at 549 public elementary schools across the capital received free meals on Tuesday.

The previous free school lunch program that had been implemented from March to October was offered only to first through fourth graders.

The expansion of free school meals to include fifth and sixth graders came as the new mayor approved an 18.4 billion won (16.6 million U.S. dollars) budget support.

The conservative former mayor Oh Se-hoon resigned over his failure to thwart the free meal expansion plan pushed by the opposition-led city council. He had pledged to step down if voters rejected his proposal to offer free meals to only lower-income students, instead of all students.

The mayor post that had been vacant since August was recently filled by opposition-backed civic activist Park after he defeated Na Kyung-won of the ruling Grand National Party in the Seoul mayoral by-election on Oct. 26.

The new mayor also plans to offer free school meals to all middle school students by 2014.

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