ASTANA -- The Kazakh government will stop offering free lunches at secondary schools across the country from September, reportedly in favor of more targeted assistance programs, local media report.
The city directorate for education in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, said the money will instead be used to finance free lunches for orphans and for children from low-income families.
Kazakh media report that authorities have been spending around 300 tenges ($1.60) per day for each schoolchild.
There were around 2.6 million children in Kazakh schools in 2014, according to official figures.
In February, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev talked publicly about a need to cancel free-lunch programs at schools in the context of a discussion with cabinet ministers of measures to tackle a looming economic crisis.
The country of around 18 million people has been battling the knock-on effect from Western sanctions that target major trade partner Russia, and taken a hit from falling global prices for its oil exports.
"Kazakhstan citizens must pay themselves for their children's buttermilk and buns," Nazarbaev said then.
Nazarbaev also said then about necessity to cut state spending to various scientific and other projects and programs.