New changes to Czech school lunches to prioritize healthy, inclusive meals

As non-profit groups take school lunches to task, the Ministry of Education clarified that school canteens would continue offering meat-free meals. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 29.08.2023 13:03:00 (updated on 29.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech school canteens are undergoing a transformation to adapt to evolving dietary preferences and nutritional standards. Recent developments indicate a concerted effort by the Ministry of Education (MŠMT) and advocacy organizations to cater to the dietary needs of all schoolchildren.

In response to upcoming changes in dietary meal methodology, Aneta Lednová, MŠMT spokeswoman, affirmed that school canteens would continue offering meat-free meals. These adjustments come amid concerns raised by the non-profit organization Nesehnutí, which has expressed concern that the new methodology would exclude students adhering to vegan and vegetarian diets.

The revised methodology's primary goal is to revamp school meal practices, with an emphasis on providing healthy, balanced meals for students. It involves adapting the consumption basket to align with modern nutritional standards.

Lednová acknowledged the challenges faced by schools in accommodating diverse dietary preferences due to constraints like hygiene rules, equipment limitations, and capacity issues. However, she pointed out that many school canteens voluntarily offer meat-free options and will continue to do so.

The ministry also clarified on its Facebook page that students can bring food from home or use school microwave ovens with parental and school consent, striving to strike a balance between accommodating students' dietary preferences and practical limitations while maintaining hygiene standards.

Despite these efforts, advocacy group Nesehnutí said that only around 30 percent of schools currently provide meal alternatives or reheating options. Consequently, the organization called for clear methodological recommendations that ensure inclusivity within the existing framework.

"The possibility to heat food from home or use the school microwave oven exists and is subject to agreement between parents and the school," the Education Ministry wrote.

According to statistics cited by Nesehnutí, approximately 5 to 10 percent of students don't eat meat, while about 11 percent have food intolerances. The organization argued that excluding vegan and vegetarian students from the methodology could lead to refusals to reheat their food without a medical certificate, potentially infringing upon constitutional rights.

Nesehnutí, the driving force behind the Colorful Canteens project, has urged the public to advocate for changes to the school meal rules. The nonprofit group seeks to engage parents and students in the process, leveraging public support, partnering with organizations and experts, and garnering endorsements from well-known celebrities.

At the same time, broader reforms are underway to modernize school meals and align them with contemporary nutritional requirements. The current dietary guidelines, based on a 40-year-old consumption basket, are set to be replaced by more up-to-date standards. Deputy Minister of Health Václav Pláteník anticipates that the initial reform drafts will be presented by year-end.

With approximately 8,600 school canteens serving nearly 2 million children daily in the Czech Republic, these changes are poised to significantly impact school lunches and promote healthier, more inclusive dietary practices among students.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more