The history of foreign children excluded from school canteens in Lodi

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For several weeks in Lodi, in Lombardy, a resolution issued by the mayor prevents dozens of foreign children from eating at the canteens of nursery and primary schools in the city and use the relevant school bus services. The number of children involved ranges between two hundred and three hundred, and to date we do not see a short-term solution. In the case of Lodi, various newspapers and TV have been dealt with: for example, an in-depth service is circulating A clean sweep aired two days ago that brings together data and stories about the families involved.

It all started in the summer of 2017, when the mayor Sara Casanova – just elected with the Lega – signed a resolution that changed the rules to benefit from the reduced rates for the school canteen and the bus. Until then, the benefits were guaranteed on the basis of the Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator (ISEE), an index that takes into account the movable and immovable assets and in extreme synthesis serves to establish the wealth of a family. For the 2018-2019 school year, which began a few weeks ago, the resolution provided that parents born outside the European Union should submit further documentation attesting their non-existence in the country of origin (the children involved are almost all born in Italy).

In recent months, several parents have taken steps to obtain certificates that prove their economic situation in their countries of origin, but many have found that this type of documents is very difficult or even impossible to obtain. The Municipality, then, seems to have used very stringent criteria to evaluate the documents presented by foreign parents. Hajat, a woman of Moroccan origins, told a A clean sweep of having gone to Morocco at his own expense to obtain the documents certifying the nullatenenza of his family nucleus: after having found them he presented them to the Municipality, but he rejected them for reasons that Hajat says he did not understand. In a report published by Everyday occurrence, the journalist Davide Milosa writes that "on the date of 7 September, for the canteen service alone, 132 questions were submitted in common: of these 3, with documentation deemed complete or yet to be evaluated; 129 were instead rejected ». The Corriere della Sera writes about at least 318 families involved.

Without the facilities, these families are placed in the highest economic band and are forced to pay 5 euros for each meal, and 210 euros a quarter for the use of the school bus: figures that many can not afford, and that effectively exclude their children from services that are instead guaranteed to the children of Italian citizens. The result is that in the absence of bus services and school canteen foreign parents are forced to accompany and resume their children at school both in the morning and during meals, to feed them at home. Two schools exceptionally allow children to take their food from home and eat in classrooms separated from the canteen: the possibility of bringing home-prepared food to school is theoretically foreseen by a recent ruling by the Council of State, which has not yet been implemented by Italian law.

The situation of these weeks has generated several unpleasant episodes, told by the newspapers: at the entrance to a school canteen, for example, a guardian appeared with the task of checking that only children in good standing could access the lunch. The Corriere della Sera he points out that during the mid-morning recreation the yogurt that is given as a snack is served almost exclusively to children of Italian parents.

At first, interviewed in September by Republic, the mayor Casanova had defended his decision, explaining: «[perché] I have to facilitate these people or these states that do not produce, if necessary, this documentation – which is then all to be verified – to the detriment of citizens who normally have to present a lot of papers and documents and are entitled to it? ".

Last week the City then approved an agenda that provides that every request for facilitations is reviewed. Casanova explained to the Corriere della Sera that the resolution of the resolution remains standing, and that it will ask parents to provide further documents: "if it is not possible, we will check with the authorities of the countries of origin the reason why the documents can not be produced. It is not enough for families to tell us that the documents are not there, tell us the consulate or the embassy. At that point, at the end of the investigation, we will give an address ». They seem rather long operations and it is not clear if the situation will change already in the coming weeks.

In the case of Lodi, two very experienced associations for the protection of foreigners are already working, such as the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) and the Naga: according to the Everyday occurrence, the two associations have already presented civil appeals to the Court of Milan for discrimination on an ethnic basis.

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