European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure BG-2021-1/1739 Updated – measures in Bulgaria

"Hot lunch" program for people in need

Програма "топъл обяд" за хора в нужда

Country Bulgaria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 January 2021 – 28 February 2023
Context COVID-19
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Measures to prevent social hardship
– Provision of services in kind (e.g. food vouchers)
Author Tsetomila Sabcheva and Luboslav Kostov (Citub)
Measure added 25 January 2021 (updated 01 April 2023)

Background information

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Operational Program "Human Resources Development" provided an additional BGN 45 million to expand health care until 31 December 2020.

Thanks to this, 30,000 adults and people with disabilities in 240 municipalities received food, medicine or assistance for the provision of administrative services and another 12,500 for social and health services. The measure is to be expanded and extended in 2021, and is already being considered by the executive as part of the measures against the pandemic.

Content of measure

The care in 2021 will be financed with a total of BGN 85 million. The application of the individual municipalities has already started and in a few months there will be detailed statistics on the implementation and effect of the measure. With these means you can: deliver food and medicine to homes, pay household bills, buy consumables, a doctor can measure blood, monitor a schedule, etc. In addition, this money can be used to provide psychological help and support to municipalities.

Currently, about 43,000 people have benefited from the measure, but so far it has not been seen in the context of the crisis. Funds will now be able to be spent on disinfection, etc., which requires the measure to be included in another context, especially in 2021.

Eligible candidates for the scheme: elderly, people with disabilities or low incomes, single parents and people in quarantine. The people in need of this services are visited by the care teams, who provide food and other services (mentioned in background info).


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

19 January 2023

On 19.09.2022 the Managing Authority (MA) of the Food and Basic Material Assistance Programme (2021-2027) announced the first direct grant procedure for the new programming period BG05SFPR003-1.001 "Hot Lunch". The deadline for applications under the procedure is extended until the end of February 2023.

01 December 2021

Following a decision of the Council of Ministers dated from 1 December 2021 about BGN 26 million (€13 million) additional funding was provided to the program. Thus the program is extended until the end of June 2022 and will cover 189 municipalities in the country. The expected program's outreach is 53,000 people.

07 April 2021

The "Hot Lunch" program is financially secured until the end of 2021. For this purpose, BGN 39 million has been provided in addition to the initially allocated budget, which will help 60,000 vulnerable citizens under the program by the end of this year. The funds will be used for a new operation "Hot Lunch" undertaken in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This will reach 60,000 people, the main groups being people without income who are below the poverty line, people placed in quarantine without income or with low income. The funding for this program is provided under the initiative of the European Commission to overcome the consequences of the crisis - the mechanism "REACT-EU".

Use of measure

Nearly 50,000 people from the most vulnerable groups will receive a hot lunch after January 1, 2021. The provision of uninterrupted service by municipalities will be possible after the government approves the Managing Authority of the Operational Program for Food and / or Basic Material Assistance from the Fund for European Assistance to the Most Deprived Persons in Bulgaria for the period 2014 - 2020 to conclude contracts for the provision of grants in the amount of up to 5 percent above the determined budget of the operational program.

It is expected that the additional resource will be sufficient for the gradual conclusion and refinancing of about 200 contracts with municipalities, which will allow the provision of hot lunch to continue from January 1, 2021 without interruption.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Does not apply to businesses Older citizens
The COVID-19 risk group
People in care facilities
People on low incomes

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Social partners jointly
Local / regional government
Local funds
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Informed Informed
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


The social partners have always supported the measure, but they had not involved in the designing, implementation and monitoring of the measure. The main participants are the state and the municipalities with the support of the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria. However, all nationally representative business and workers' organizations support the measure and promote it through their regional offices.

Views and reactions

The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria actively assists at the regional level for the implementation of the measure through its members. In addition, the confederation itself has taken a number of initiatives at local and national level in support of those in need, similar to that of the municipal administration.


  • 30 November 2020: Топъл обяд ще има и през 2021 г. за близо 50 000 нуждаещи с (
  • 01 January 2021: Социални мерки (
  • 07 April 2021: Програмата "Топъл обяд" продължава до края на годината (
  • 01 December 2021: Социални мерки (
  • 19 January 2023: Municipalities will be able to apply to provide hot lunches to people from vulnerable groups until the end of February (


Eurofound (2021), "Hot lunch" program for people in need, measure BG-2021-1/1739 (measures in Bulgaria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

30 January 2023


Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

Governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine. This article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch database from January to September 2022.


12 September 2022


First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


12 September 2022


Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses that governments across the EU have started to implement to support companies affected by the rising prices, and those with commercial ties to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.


5 July 2022


Policies to support refugees from Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses of EU Member States, including those of the social partners and other civil society actors, enabling refugees to exercise their rights under the Temporary Protection Directive.


Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.