Renata Lukasova is the Director of Čerstvá Sváča (Fresh Snack). With her many years of School Meal experience, she tells us what is good in the Czech school meal system, why ordering a warm meal at school is important and how parents can get involved in the school lunch eating habits of their kids.
What Renata recommends:
1. QUANTITY REPLACED WITH QUALITY.
It means to rewrite “spotřební koš” (the consumption basket) with nutritional recommendations based on a combination of criteria of the Healthy School Cafeteria Program (a program by the National Institute of Public Health www.zdravaskolnijidelna.cz) and a healthy plate (The Healthy Eating Plate, created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and editors at Harvard Health Publications, was designed to address deficiencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s MyPlate).
Spotřební Koš is based on 25-year old nutritional requirements focused on the groups of foods and their quantity recommended for a given age category. By calculating the consumption basket, the school kitchen declares how they comply with it. My practical experience with spotřební koš says that it’s possible to create a balanced and varied menu that can please the great majority, without having to calculate it.
2. SCHOOL CAFETERIAS AS CONTRIBUTING ORGANIZATIONS.
I believe that the School Principal should concentrate on the area of teaching and the management (the municipality in most cases) should focus on the school cafeteria area. The management or board has greater insight and information from the market, because they look after more schools, and can be a better partner for managing school cafeterias. The school principal is then a partner for contact with parents and education of children in the field of nutrition and its impact on concentration and performance.
3. LUNCH & SNACKS PREPARED BY CAFETERIAS – Snacks that are to be offered in schools (preparing the menu) should be decisions made by the cafeteria team. The cafeteria team should be the one taking care of all food served in the building. Snacks are complementary to lunches, and the team can suitably combine ingredients to ensure that lunch and morning/ afternoon snacks correspond with each other. Because all of this requires a lot of planning, this supplementary activity justifies an increase in the wages of staff.
4. OPEN SCHOOL CAFETERIAS
Most school cafeterias are accessible only a few hours a day and it’s a pity! A cafeteria is a great place for socializing, relaxing, and tuning out. It’s also great for meeting parents and children regularly. Cafeterias are like the kitchen in your home where you can feel comfortable and secure. With a few simple interior adjustments, cafeterias can be a vital and vibrant addition to any school.
To read Renata’s interview on school cafeteria meals, click here.