School lunch with a SPIRIT!
It is early in the morning. All children are still sleeping comfortably in their beds when mom and dad go quietly to the kitchen. It is a weekday. With a backpack full of lunchboxes on their backs, the children will soon all go to school. The teacher is waiting for them. After the daily morning greeting, they will all listen well and work hard all day long. But first, all the lunch boxes have to be filled, with tasty and healthy school lunch and snacks. The moms and dads want their children to do their very best at school and a healthy meal makes the difference.
Does this seem familiar? Whether you have children yourself or you recognize yourself in it, everyone who has attended school in the Netherlands has such an experience. What a sweet and endearing picture, isn’t it?
On the other side of the border or a brief look at the neighbours.
“At two Belgian schools in Ghent no school lunch prepared in a factory are served anymore, but fresh organic food.” I read this recently in Lekker (W)eten the magazine of Ekoplaza, an organic supermarket in the Netherlands. And honestly, my first thought was: “Wow, the neighbours are really doing a good job! The school-age children in Ghent eat warm meals instead of shoving in a sandwich every day and moreover these meals are organic.”
“Triiiiing.” You know that this is a lunch with a SPIRIT. All the pupils are eagerly awaiting in a queue in the school canteen. It is a food festival. The teachers and children, local residents, farmers, chefs and all enthusiasts roll up their sleeves together to turn school lunch into local, ecological and fair delicacies with a SPIRIT.”
In the United Kingdom, Jamie Oliver fights obesity among school children by making the school lunch healthier.
“Over the past 30 years, our diets have changed dramatically. Food has become ultra-processed and overly high in salt, fat and sugar. Meanwhile, childhood obesity rates have tripled. It is not a coincidence. Food is the biggest industry on the planet, and it urgently needs a reset.”
In recent years celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has started a national campaign in England. His goal is to free school meals from processed and unhealthy food. In this way school children get a chance for better health and higher learning performance.
His fight against childhood obesity has led in 2015 to the adoption of new national rules for healthy school meals in the United Kingdom. Five years after the start of his campaign, a study shows that the children perform much better at school and that school absenteeism has dropped by 14%.
Further to the North. How do they deal with this in Finland?
“School catering exists in Finland since 1948. Moreover, Finland was the first country in the world to serve free school meals.”
It seems the further the better. Apparently, in Finland children not only receive freshly cooked school lunch, but it is also free of charge. The aim is to promote the health of the pupils and to give them more energy for their schoolwork. Finland has developed special guidelines for school meals. Every school day an example menu is presented on a plate in each school canteen. The catering staff helps and guides the students. This all helps to teach the students to make responsible food choices, it promotes the learning of healthy eating habits and good social skills.
When will the Netherlands follow?