Information for schools

The School Meals Programme is about enabling as many children as possible to attend lessons on a full stomach. It wants to help children going to both primary and secondary school. Schools are therefore key in successfully implementing this project. Initially, the programme will focus on schools that meet specific selection criteria.

Schools qualify for the School Meals Programme if at least 30% of their pupils belong to low-income households. These data can be found in the National Education Cohort Study (NCO) reports. Every school has an NCO report. More information about the NCO report can be found here: Reports| National Education Cohort Study. The report of your school can also be provided by the schoolboard.

Appendix 1, Table 2: Chapter 1 of the NCO report includes a percentage ‘Pupils with low-income parents’ (look at the 2020/2021 percentage). For more information about the NCO report and where you can find this information, please check this explanation. If this percentage is at least 30%, the school may sign up for the School Meals Programme. Some schools have multiple NCO reports for different forms or types of education. These schools are a target group if at least one of the NCO reports confirms a percentage of at least 30%. For further explanation, see below under ‘criteria’.


Schools sign up

Since March 29, 2023, schools have had the opportunity to sign up for the programme. The programme will run until 31 December 2023. The sooner your school signs up, the longer pupils can use the programme. It is also possible to sign up at a later stage: if there is enough budget, new target group schools are welcome to join the programme. Every school has to register for each location.

In the registration form we invite you, among other things, to upload your NCO report. You may also select the programme option you currently prefer.

There are two programme options:

  1.  A school budget for organising school meals.
  2. Parents/caregivers receive grocery cards. These cards are worth money that parents/caregivers can use to buy extra food for their school-going children.

Would you like to change your choice in the course of time? This is possible under certain conditions, in consultation with the School Meals Programme.

Registration form

Selection and registration

As soon as your school signs up, we will check whether your schools meets the criteria. If this is the case, we will confirm participation and you will select your final choice for the 1st or 2nd option to finalise the registration.

Should your application be denied and you wish to appeal, please send an email to [email protected].



All schools qualify if at least 30% of their pupils are part of low-income households.

  • Primary and secondary schools are therefore invited to upload (an) NCO report(s) in the application form.
  • SBO, VSO, PRO and SO schools need not upload an NCO report: they all qualify based on available data.
  • The following applies to a broad school community with several levels of education:
    • When choosing school meals: the school can only offer food to pupils of the educational level that is a target group. Pay attention to the prevention of stigmatisation in the organisation.
    • If grocery cards are chosen: these are intended for all pupils of the school who need them. The Netherlands Red Cross verifies through a questionnaire that the parents/caregivers qualify for the programme. In that way, grocery cards are presented to the pupils/ families who need it most.

Schools can apply via the registration form.

School Meals Programma – Meals at school

Executing the programme

Both options of the School Meals Programme are conducted by two different organisations:

  1. School meals – budgets are provided by the Youth Education Fund.
  2. Individual support of parents/caregivers – grocery cards are distributed by the Netherlands Red Cross.
Logo Netherlands Red Cross Logo of the Dutch Youth Education Fund

1st option: School meals

If your school decides to offer school meals, you will receive more information after admission to the School Meals Programme. The contact person for your school then submits a monthly budget request to the Youth Education Fund. In that request, you specify how you want to offer the food to the pupils. After approval, you can get started. You can budget based on an amount of up to €9 per child per week (including VAT) each month.

As a school, you are at liberty to decide which way of offering food best suits your pupils and your facilities/staffing. For example, you can set up a partnership with local or national suppliers who deliver sandwiches, snacks or fruit. You can also use volunteers or parents and/or caregivers to help with the organisational aspects and implementation. Alternatively, you can provide individual meal packs, create self-service points for fruit or set up a pantry from which the pupils can take food. You can also combine a number of options. Clear examples are provided on the inspiration page.

The Youth Education Fund supports the school with so-called school contacts. These are fixed points of contact for the schools, who can contribute ideas about the range of food that is most appropriate for the school in question.

Schools may submit a monthly statement for the costs incurred. This is verified by the Youth Education Fund and payments are only made if all vouchers have been correctly submitted and approved. The total amount should never exceed the monthly amount that was communicated to the school at the launch of the programme.

2nd option: Grocery cards

If your school opts for grocery cards, you will receive a message from the Netherlands Red Cross. We will ask you to inform the parents/caregivers of your school about the School Meals Programme, and to share a link to an online registration form with them. We will send you communication material for this purpose. You are then asked to verify whether these parents/caregivers are known to you and whether the number of children of the parents/caregivers at your school is correct*. After verification, the Red Cross will contact the parents/caregivers directly and your role ends.

The Red Cross has access to the information provided in the online registration form. Based on this information, we assess whether parents/caregivers are eligible to participate. Parents/caregivers will receive a response within two weeks. Then they will hear whether they meet the conditions and are welcome to join the programme. If they do not meet the conditions, they will receive a message to inform them of this decision. If they do not agree and would want to receive the support anyways, they are asked to contact customer service. Once parents/caregivers are included in the programme, they will receive a grocery card. Every two weeks, for each child (with a maximum of 3 children per household) €22 is put on the card. Parents/caregivers receive instructions on how to use this card. They can also contact customer service if they need help using the card.

*For this reason, the Red Cross enters into a Processing Agreement with participating schools.

Request a budget and claim your expenses

Does your school use the school meals facility? The step-by-step guide below explains how to apply for a budget and claim your expenses online. It also includes helpful costing examples. Please read the guide carefully; that will help you organise the meals effectively and speed up financial settlement.


Important information:

  • Each month, you apply for a new budget for the following month. The School Meals Programme runs to December 2024.
  • Your school pays the up-front costs for (organising) the meals. At the end of the month, you can claim this amount back from the Youth Education Fund.
  • You can use the budget on one occasion to cover start-up costs for organising school meals, such as a refrigerator, cupboard or freezer. The manual explains how this works.

Questions? Check out the list of FAQs or get in touch with us via [email protected].

Communication with the contact person for your school.

The Youth Education Fund also supports schools by appointing contact persons. These are permanent points of contact who can help you with suggestions on the types of food that best suit your school. Check out the contact details.

Documents and videos

  1. Guide ‘How to apply for your budget and claim your expenses under the School Meals Programme’
  2. Appendix to be sent with invoices
  3. Form for claiming reimbursement for volunteers
  4. Form for use when submitting a claim based on multiple cash receipts and invoices for a single month
  5. Video of the inspiration session for schools – 12 June 2023