UZEI in Praha conducts its first RMEs on 18 and 28 April 2016

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By Andrea Pekarkova & Pavel Sladek, UZEI

Regional Multiplier Events (RME) on April 18 and 28 2016 were held primarily for employees of school cafeterias, schools economists, directors, students, experts and other stakeholders.

44 participants attended the first seminar and the second seminar attended 88 participants. At the second seminar there was a wider group of audience, especially through the participation of students from Secondary Agricultural and Veterinary School and students of nutritional consultancy from Nursing School.

There were held nine presentations focusing on following topics:

  • Myths in catering
  • Use of a healthy school canteen in marketing schools
  • Potatoes in school meals
  • Healthy snacks and other projects to support healthy school nutrition
  • Local market in Brno
  • Practical aspects of school canteens
  • Product map of Southern Bohemia
  • Software for school canteens
  • Food in school meals (legislative framework – the consumer basket)
  • Discussion about disabling of wending machines with junk food
  • Subsidized healthy food into school canteens, which simultaneously promotes local manufacturers (milk, milk products, fruits)

One part of the seminars was realized in the form of a workshop, where participants answered questions based primarily on the SWOT analysis.

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SWOT analysis

Strengths 

In the Czech school canteens there is already the standard choice of two meals. This is perceived as positive and natural especially by students. In the case of other groups there are not such significant preferences.

In the second paragraph the experts and students appreciate modern and comfortable canteens, but by the school staff this enthusiasm is shared by only half number of respondents compared to the students and experts.

Modern and healthy menu is appreciated mainly by students and staff of the school canteen.

An interesting contradiction brings the response about a preparedness of personnel. Respondents from the school canteens staff are confident about their sufficient preparedness, the other groups quote it significantly lower.

Most respondents appreciated on the Czech school canteens system its tradition and sophistication.

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Weaknesses

As for As weaknesses of the Czech school canteens the majority of the public thinks that school cafeterias have outdated equipment and poorly trained staff. Cafeterias employees themselves have a different opinion.

Regarding the funding of the system of school meals, most of the respondents think that the Czech school canteens are underfinanced and staff  is badly paid.

According to the respondents, the system has too much regulation and bureaucracy.

 

Opportunities

Answers of respondents often differ depending on the group they belong. As regards the use of local foods, most supporters are the experts involved. On the other hand, local foods are less supported by the school employees, including those from the school canteen. The experts also recommended more training for employees of school canteens, while other groups disagree. Experts (and lesser of extent students) also call for creative ideas in the meal  recepies .

 

Threats

Experts believe that the biggest threat is usage of semi-finished products in school meals and quarrels within the professional community, unlike mainly from school canteens employees .

Those on the other hand, see the major threats in central purchasing, public procurement  of raw materials and especially in the lack of interest to work in a school canteens.

 

Conclusion

An important part of our RME was the issue of regional foods. In Czechia, the situation differs primarily from region to region. Important factors are mainly the number of potential suppliers and the ability to negotiate with individual suppliers.

Interesting experiences are from South Bohemia, where consumers can use the Product map created at the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice and in South Moravia, where 23 schools (77%) in Brno have already have had an experience with a local food.

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Oradea CTMV Regional Multiplier Event, Romania

“Mihai Viteazul” Technical College, Oradea, Romania represented by Prof. PhD Filimon Ruben, the national coordinator of the Taste of Life Erasmus + Project, Prof. Mela Delia, national manager of the project and Prof. Hontila Ramona, member in the project, organized on the 20th of April 2016 a Regional Multiplier Event in the conference room at Continental Forum in Oradea.

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There were members of the press present, both local and national. The organizers gave TV interviews on Realitatea TV and radion interviews on Radio Romania Actualitati. We also had a representative of written and on-line media, cf. http://ovidan.ro/?p=articles.details.13307.

The participants were ecological producers, mayors, farmers, canteen administrators, school and kindergarten headmasters. There were 48 participants. The event began by a short introduction made by prof. Filimon Ruben then Prof. Mela Delia made an interesting approach to the project through a simple exercise of imagination and creativity asking the participants to view themselves through the perspective of an apple. The response of the participants was extraordinary, they pointed out those characterisitics of the apple that make the foundation of the whole project: healthy, regional, ecological, great vitamins etc. Prof. Hontila Ramona made a presentation of the activities done in the project at school level: interactive lessons, the ToL brochure and an experiment to point out the necessity of practical approach when discussing healthy and unhealthy products. Everyone knows that cola drinks have a lot of sugar but no one on the auditorium could approximate correctly the amount of sugar in a 330ml can of cola (8 teaspoons). The impact on students is greater if we demonstrate as well as discuss.

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We invited two key speakers, Mr. Avram Fitiu, the general secretary of the National Federation of Ecological Agriculture and Mr. Andrei Taichis, the president of the Federation of Ecological Agriculture Bihor County. They both had very interesting information to bring to our attention, Mr. Fitiu being actively involved in bringing ecological products closer to the public and he stressed out the importance of education of small children towards a healthy lifestyle, considering that by the age of 10-12 the eating habits are formed and difficult to change.  Mr. Andrei Taichis, owns an animal farm in Lelesti, Bihor County, he presented his offer and the difficulties he encounters when dealing with school canteens. They both underlined the importance of bringing kindergarten and primary school children to the farm, getting them to understand and experience farm life and thus bringing their parents closer to this lifestyle. In Mr. Fitiu’s opinion, this is the key to improving the public’s lifestyle.

All participants were offered a bag of ecological products from Mr. Tachis’ farm (gem and syrup) and after the presentations, we all had lunch at Continental Forum restaurant. It was an event that brought together, in a relaxed atmosphere, people who can make ToL happen.

Regional products in School Canteens – Regional Multiplier Event in Friesland

 

On Friday 20 May 2016 some 200 students and their parents enjoyed a healthy lunch with regional products and sustainable cutlery at pre-VET school Nordwin College high up in the North of The Netherlands in the town of Heerenveen. The students received one clear assignment from their teacher Rienk Boscha: organize a healthy lunch with regional products in our school canteen. That’s all. How and what, that’s up to you!

Pre-VET school Nordwin College already has the certificate Healthy School Canteen issued by the Dutch NGO Food Centre. The application for 2016 is also on their way. At Nordwin it was quite easy to obtain the certificate. The school has ‘green’ courses like Healthy Food, Animal Husbandry, Green Technique and Flower Arrangements.  It is clear that these courses attract students already with a ‘green’ mindset. Also students told us that they were influenced by their parents regarding the choice of the school and a healthy lifestyle. Parents often have ‘green’ businesses too.

 

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You can recognize the green and healthy canteen at Nordwin on features as a candy machine that does not serve candy but gran cookies with cereals. Also there is a water machine with free, healthy, tasty and thirst-quenching water.  There is fresh soup and healthy rolls. The toasted bread always has one side white and one side brown.  Although it (still) is available at the school canteen, students told us that there is no need at this school to be ‘cool’ by drinking soda and eating pizza or chips. The canteen looks good and invites you to stay during the school breaks. Also the school stimulates the students with lessons and projects.

According to the students success factors are: a small school were everybody knows each other and were peer pressure is low, practical education with cooking lessons and the availability of tasty food which is not more expensive than ‘normal’ or ‘bad’ food. Also every change on policy regarding healthy school canteens has been discussed in advance with the students themselves via their Student Council. And last but not least…concerned and inspired teachers and (canteen) staff like Rienk Boscha, Folkert Hofman and Bert Sietsma who are able to give room for experiments and are not afraid of losing revenues because students eventually don’t want to buy the healthy stuff.

What did the students serve for their parents in their school canteen according to the assignment to make a biological lunch from regional products?  There was meat and ice-cream from water buffalo’s from regional producer Waterbuffelfarm Oldemarkt ( 100% free of antibiotics) and vegetables and fruits from the regional producer Nature garden ‘t Hummelhus. At the regional farmers organization De Streekboer you can order your food and fetch it at a collection point.

 

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That means less packing material and less transport. The cutlery was made of wood and palm leaves instead of plastic. After use it will be cleaned with eco labeled detergent and can be recycled easily. The left overs are mostly being fed to the animals at school from the course animal husbandry. You could also donate to Edukans, a NGO who send out Dutch teachers to developing countries during their holidays to help and work together with local teachers out there.

So in conclusion… the regional Multiplier Event at Heereveen from the Community of Practice Friesland was 100% successful and 100% sustainable! We tasted biological, healthy and regional food. We did not waste anything because we ate with recycled cutlery and the left overs were fed to the animals. There was concern for teachers in less developed countries.

And … everything was conceived and organized by the students themselves. For sure, the parents were really proud!

P. van der Baan, May 2016

Regional Multiplier Event in Brabant, The Netherlands

On Friday 8 April 2016, some 50 persons participated in a ToL Regional Multiplier Event at VET KWIC at s-Hertogenbosch in Brabant, The Netherlands.

Some 35 teachers, managers and canteen staff from 18 different VET schools from all over NL were present, as well as 14 persons from 6 different caterers (caterer Hutten also representing regional suppliers).

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First, the audience checked the canteen at KWIC how they presented their food and beverages and after that, they discussed about healthy food while standing in a line representing keen on healthy food (10) or not at all involved (0). As you can imagine, most of the participants gathered around 6-8 in the line.

After this, the participant listened to two presentations. One about vision, ethics and your own opinion on healthy school canteens and the other about how to influence people to buy healthy food and beverages in canteens.

After this, they all enjoyed a healthy and green lunch at the school restaurant, entirely run by students themselves. Students explained why they served a healthy meal.

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The afternoon was reserved for the caterers. In workshops, all the participants could discuss about how to set up a healthy and green school canteen and the do’s and the don’ts. A short evaluation ended the day.

Here, you can read about the tricks and tips that came up during the whole day:

  • For students that did not had a breakfast, KWIC offers a breakfast deal, cheap and healthy.
  • Put lamps on the food/beverages you want to highlight and students are thereby attracted (more than 186%)
  • Start the route with the healthy stuff first such as fruits etc.
  • Make the unhealthy stuff scanty and let the students ask for it.
  • Smilies or the traffic light system works!
  • Put the good stuff at eye level, for the bad stuff students have to search, to reach or to bend.
  • Reward the good stuff by making it cheaper.
  • Snacks only after 11.30 o clock. Before that time only a healthy breakfast can be served.
  • Smoothies are tasty, popular and healthy.
  • Everywhere free water from the tap instead of soft drinks.
  • Investigate why people in Sardinia and Japan live so long. It appears that fish, olive oil and especially a meaningful social environment for the elderly are important.
  • WWMDD: What Would Mc Donalds Do? Do not hesitate to learn from the successful commercial companies. The Happy Meal (in your case with healthy stuff) is a cash cow.
  • Giving children presents and gadgets works. Mc Donalds staff always asks: “… do you want fries with it?” So, you also can ask your students explicitly: “… do you want … with it?”
  • In the introduction program for new students at KWIC, the first two days only fast food is served. The students get so sick and tired of it that after this devilish intro they only want to eat healthy the rest of their school career. They also feel better and more concentrated.
  • Important when promoting healthy stuff are balance, moderation, variety and the social function.
  • At KWIC introduction program students cook for each other and never a new student sits alone during lunch.
  • In NL there is an app where you can test your lifestyle.
  • Discourage instead of forbid. Like every adolescent in the world students will do just the opposite when you forbid snacks etc.
  • Middle-up/down policy: from teachers, canteen staff up to school management and down to students & parents.
  • When you can change/adapt the environment and/or make it more fun, instead of making more rules and regulations, people will change their behavior.
  • Nice example is the stairway next to the escalator in a metro station. When the stairway was made into piano keys that could make music, the use rises with 66% (film on YouTube available).
  • The scent of cleaning stuff makes people polish more.
  • The sight of books or a library makes people more silent.
  • People very strongly want to conform to each other.
  • The smaller the portion or plate the less you eat. The bigger the portion/plate the more you eat.
  • Seducing is better than forbidding. For example fruit in a nice bowl raises sales with 103%.
  • Success factors at Burgers Zoo NL: create shortage = as long as available, gadgets, tip of the chef, walking route via the right (so not via the left), healthy stuff first, healthy stuff under the spotlights (186% more buying!!) specialties, not healthy not easy to reach.
  • Keep on trying for a few weeks. People are used to their habits and are not ready to change easily.
  • Let students participate and think and discuss with you.
  • Make the school canteen a nice place where the student likes to come and like to stay. It is a
  • place to experience and to taste (like the ideas of James Olivier). The average student still wants to have a quick bite and to leave school during the brake as quick as possible.
  • Don’t mention healthy in your communication to students.
  • Dutch caterer Hutten has 40 regular suppliers, growers and farmers. It is not easy but worthwhile. (We from TOL still have to find out why).
  • Hutten also has actions around the wasting food problem.
  • The role of the caterer will change in the near future from food/drinks supplier to life style coach with a coaching and teaching program. Vitality for students and teaching staff will be key. So, from contract to advice and awareness.
  • Let students participate!! Let them think with you and let them interview each other about their choices and behavior. So, not too much supply-driven, but more demand-driven.
  • Start to develop a good taste. Then the rest will follow.
  • A step-by-step plan for change:
  1. Make a school canteen team (all stakeholders, including students).
  2. State of the art/present situation.
  3. Goals/ambitions.
  4. Promotion/actions/communication.
  5. Securing the policy.
  6. Evaluation.
  • Important influencers are canteen staff and initiators (early adapters) within the school organization.

Text: Peter van der Baan, Photos: Prem Jaddoe, April 2016

Regional Multiplier Event in Schwerin, Germany

The Schweriner Bildungswerkstatt e.V. (SBW) had the honor to organize the first Regional Multiplier Event (RME) in the ToL project. On 23 February 2016 about 30 visitors came to join this program.

The program was divided into two parts. Especially for the foreign guests from Lithuania, Netherlands and France, a morning program was organized with some field visits. The first visit was to a caterer, specialized in school meals for the region around. We discussed the challenges and opportunities to use regional products for such a caterer. Questions such as the taste of young and older pupil, the price of the meals, the parents’ opinion, were discussed. In addition, the regional origin of the ingredients and the logistics for a constant stock of vegetables and the delivery of the ready meals to the schools asked for creative solutions.

 

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The next visit was of an agricultural farm, owned by a Dutch farmer. He showed that a farm could produce a wide range of animal and plant products. He also showed us a farm with a variety of specifics: milk production and their processing to ice cream, biogas, and production of asparagus, tomatoes and strawberries under glass with direct marketing from the farm and on the city-market. He also offers many other activities, a restaurant with homemade products, a big food store and attractive playing facilities for children. After all these discussions about food, it was really time for a lunch.

In the canteen of SBW a special lunch was prepared with only local and regional products, all with a biological origin. A group of students prepared the meal and it was based on the recipes of the VitalMenü project.

Then the afternoon program started. The composition of the audience already showed how many actors are involved in a topic such as school meals. Catering, logistics, regional councils for schools and for parents, basic schools and professional schools, Landesmarketing for Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and, as already mentioned, also some foreign guests. It was good that they were all here. However, it showed also that it is complex to have all these actors permanently involved in decision-making and further developments for regional school meals. Member of the audience are also member of the school meal network if the VitalMenü.

 

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The plenary program had to main parts:

  • Good experiences
  • How to initiate changes

In the first part, existing activities were discussed. Presentations about Good Practices drew the attention of the audience.

VitalMenü is a program from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with a growing collection of recipes, specially developed for schoolchildren, with an active input from the children themselves and their parents. It aims to make tasty, attractive and healthy meals for children. See: www.mv-ernaehrung.de/vitalmenue.html.

Smaaklessen is a Dutch program, supported by the Dutch government. It is mainly for pupils from primary schools. It has developed learning materials for teachers, parents, pupils, and professionals involved in school meals. The learning material is web-based. See: www.smaaklessen.nl. Apart from this website there is also a special Smaaklessen-box with all needed utensils and ingredients to do some in-school experiments.

Kneippschule Wöbbelin gave an introduction in their educational concept, including the importance of good food as a part of the integrated holistic approach on health. See: www.kneippbund-mv.de/kneipp-vor-ort/schulen.html.

After the break, it was time for new developments, or at least for ideas about it. We focused on the relevant situation in school meals in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. What trends do we see? Another question was about “how to change”. It was clear that changing food habits is not so easy. There is a permanent seduction from TV, other media and not to forget “the street”. Fast food is everywhere. The questions we discussed with the caterer earlier this morning were also relevant for this group. What are the financial consequences of regional school meals, how can we make them more “sexy” for the youngsters, do we need assistance from their parents, and do they want to give this support?

At the end of this afternoon, we concluded that the topic of regional school meals, as we see it in the TOL project, is important and already discussed in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It can give a (small) contribution to a more tasty school meal, the health of the future generation, with less overweight and less diabetes. We concluded that modern school meals are an important aspect and the German partners as they were here, were motivated to continue the contacts also in the future.

Hans Blankestijn & Elke Halm