The Public Defender’s Office of the state of Rio de Janeiro filed, last Monday (14), with the 1st Child and Adolescent Court of the Capital, with a request for the execution of an out-of-court agreement signed in 2016 by the State Department of Education with the commitment to keep updated the values destined to school meals.
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A survey by the Defender’s Office of Calculations points out that the transfer should be at least R$ 3.90 per day per full-time student and R$ 1.35 per day for part-time students, in the school months. However, since April of last year, the state transfers to the School Support Associations, responsible for purchasing meals at each teaching unit, the amounts of R$ 2.20 and R$ 0.76, respectively.
The agreement on updating student meal values was the result of negotiations between the Ombudsman, the Public Ministry and the State Department of Education in 2016, for the vacancy of high schools.
The extrajudicial title signed between the parties, although not a sentence issued by the Judiciary, is enforceable and, if disrespected, may be enforced in court.
The document does not specify amounts, but provides for an annual review of the per capita transfer, based on inflation in the period. To arrive at the minimum transfer suggested per student, the Defender’s Calculation Nucleus was based on the accumulated National Consumer Price Index (IPCA), which considers the cost of food at home.
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In recent years, the Ombudsman, through the Coordination of Childhood and Youth (Coinfância) has asked the Department of Education, several times, without success, to comply with the agreement and readjust the amounts allocated to the food offered to students. The last attempt was in March, when it issued a recommendation on the matter.
“The readjustment is essential to ensure quality food for public school students. The per capita value currently passed on by the State is out of date and is insufficient to circumvent the high prices caused by inflation”, explained the coordinator of Coinfância, public defender Rodrigo Azambuja.
The Ombudsman asks the Justice that the Department of Education be forced to publish, within 30 days, a resolution with the revised values, with a daily fine of R$ 50,000 in case of non-compliance.
The Ombudsman points out that the non-annual review of values ”has negatively impacted public policy, forcing managers of educational units to promote menu changes, choosing less nutritious and healthy foods, or reducing the supply of food to students”.
“The lag in the transferred amounts has a direct and negative impact on the quality of the food that reaches the students’ plates, as shown by the reports presented by the State Council for School Feeding and the School of Nutrition of the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (Unirio )”, highlighted the sub-coordinator of Coinfância, defender Angélica Rodrigues da Silveira.
Technical opinion from Unirio’s School of Nutrition, from May 2022, indicates that menu changes are constant, mainly due to lack of financial resources to purchase a product. CEAE-RJ report, with data collected a month later, confirm the problem.
“As a strategy not to stop offering food for everyone, the directors have made changes to the proposed menu. Always opting for simpler and cheaper preparations. (…) Taking into account the current situation, with the increase in food prices and the difficulties faced reported, discussions about the per capita value should be made to ensure quality food for public school students”, records the document.
Source: BdF Rio de Janeiro
Editing: Eduardo Miranda