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Federal Minister Christian Schmidt, Professor Ulrike Arens-Azevedo and Sabine Schulz-Greve (speakers of the networking centres) with students Federal Minister Christian Schmidt, Professor Ulrike Arens-Azevedo and Sabine Schulz-Greve (speakers of the networking centres) with students, Source: BMEL/photothek.net/Thomas Trutschel

BMEL quality offensive for healthy food

On the occasion of the first Federal Congress on School Meals held on 25 November 2014, Federal Minister Christian Schmidt announced a new quality offensive for healthy school meals and sought support for a joint strategy of federal, state and local authorities.

In the context of health and nutritional education we all bear great responsibility for providing our children with the best possible knowledge. Homes, day-care centres and schools have a decisive impact on forming dietary habits that often stick with us for a whole lifetime. It is therefore a prime commitment to make sure that we are serious about nutrition education," Federal Minister Christian Schmidt said on the occasion of the opening of the Congress.

More than 300 participants from politics, education, science, school administration, caterers, food and health experts, school principals, teachers, representatives of parents and students, and media representatives gathered in Berlin to present and discuss ideas, initiatives and policy recommendations for the future of school meals.

School meals graded as "good" to "satisfactory": Study on the quality of school meals in Germany

For the Federal Ministry and under the "National Action Plan IN FORM – German national initiative to promote healthy diets and physical activity", the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences surveyed school managers and school boards as well as students in different types of schools.

More than 12,000 students were surveyed; they gave school meals (including room design and general conditions) an average grade of between good and satisfactory, with primary schools receiving slightly better grades than secondary schools. Nevertheless the students' wish list is long: It ranges from personal meal preferences and remarks on cleanliness and hygiene to the design of the rooms.

Quality offensive for improving school meals in Germany

Based on the test results the quality offensive for improving school meals in Germany includes five fields of activity:

  1. The quality standard for school meals should be binding!
    The quality of school meals must not be left to coincidence, since it is, after all, a matter of setting the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Those ordering the meals also need to demand that quality standards be maintained. There are already many good examples showing that this can work and how this can work. Our ministry and the school meals networking centres are prepared to support all stakeholders in this process.
  2. We need regular check-ups for school caterers!
    School caterers need to gain qualifications to be approved as school lunch providers. Hot-holding catering can only work if the hot-holding periods are short. Those ordering the catering must demand that their potential suppliers provide evidence of their qualifications. The German Nutrition Society will henceforth act as a national quality centre for school meals for this purpose. It is planned that it should be in charge both of monitoring the quality standards and of training the caterers.
  3. The provision of food in schools needs to be a top-level issue!
    The school management must be directly responsible for providing school meals. It also needs to be part of the school's strategy, with accompanying nutritional education also being indispensable. School meals and the obligation to cater in accordance with the standards of the German Nutrition Society should become a part of everyday school life, and schools as promoters of health should be firmly established as a principle of school policies. Wherever students are catered for, catering committees should be set up to monitor the quality of school meals; these committees should consist of parents, teachers, student representatives and suppliers.
  4. The networking centres continue to take centre stage!
    The work of the school meals networking centres will continue to be essential in years to come. If the federal states continue to make their contribution, the federal government will also continue to support the work of the school meals networking centres. The objective must be to firmly establish the networking centres as advisory agencies for school boards, schools and caterers.
  5. Students should become ambassadors of good school meals!
    Students are important seismographs for the quality of meals. Those eating the meals every day should have more of a say in what they are served and how it is presented. But the aim must not be to just have pizza and French fries served every day. School meals need to be fun, taste nice and be healthy. The BMEL will therefore be organising a competition for highly motivated students and for first-class school meals. Who helps out in the cafeteria, who has innovative ideas for the menu, who volunteers to be a "cafeteria tester"? The prizes will be awarded for good ideas and for examples that inspire others to emulate them.

Further information

Please find further information on the event, on the study about the current situation regarding school meals in Germany and on the BMEL's IN FORM activities at www.bundeskongress-schulverpflegung.de and www.in-form.de.

As of:
25.11.14

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