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Free student meal program cheated

(Global Times)

08:59, November 28, 2012

Five people, including a headmaster of an elementary school in Fenghuang county, Hunan Province, were fired for failing to supervise the central government subsidized meal program for rural students, after a volunteer teacher complained on her Sina Weibo about the poor quality lunches being served to students.

The teacher surnamed Liang at Suode Elementary School in the county's La'ershan township wrote on her Weibo that the students' lunch were worth only 1.9-yuan ($0.31) and contained a box of milk and a palm-sized slice of bread, People's Daily reported Monday.

"The quality is declining and it's getting small. The children are far from full! Do you negligent officials want to embezzle the meal fund and starve them?" the Weibo user, diaoya, said in a series of posts over the past three weeks.

The central government launched the meal program in October last year, allocating 16 billion yuan annually to subsidize rural student lunches.

The program is designed to spend an average of 3 yuan per student per day. It covers some 1.65 million students in 37 counties in Hunan Province and was launched after similar charitable programs earlier last year raised awareness of the students' need.

Liang's Weibo postings also said the students received expired milk and their lunch was often delayed.

The county's education bureau declined to comment further when reached by the Global Times Tuesday.

Wu Yuangui, head of the bureau, told the People's Daily that the central government funding is a subsidy to help local governments boost the quality of meals.

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