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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

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

Factsheet for case 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 – 31 December 2021
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) and Eurofound
Case created 25 January 2021 (updated 11 May 2021)

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.

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

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 (


Eurofound (2021), "Hot lunch" program for people in need, case BG-2021-1/1739 (measures in Bulgaria), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

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