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