In Lysekil, a small town on the Swedish west coast, the recipe for success is spelt politicians, an energetic meals manager and parent/pupil activities.
“Organic sugar – what’s that?”
“That means no pesticides or commercial fertilizers have been used.”
Alexander and Elliot in grade 4-5 at Bergs School are peeling, coring and chopping apples. Today’s recipe is organic apple sauce, using apples from the school’s own apple tree. The saucepan is soon filled with creamy-coloured, crisp pieces of apple. This lesson is part of a school project about healthy, organic and local food produce.
“It’s amazing to watch pupils in this age group, they know so much. They already know far more than we adults do. The pupils can influence their parents in the right direction,” says Per-Åke Johansson, local politician and active in the School Meals Academy. He thinks that knowledge at an early age and parental involvement provide the key to good eating habits in school. And tonight Per-Åke and meals manager Gunilla Martinsson are meeting a group of parents and inviting them to a school meal using organic local produce.
“There’s such a lot we can do. For instance we serve fruit with every school meal, and there I think we are unique,” adds Gunilla.
Lysekil is one of many municipalities that have joined the School Meals Academy. What is especially exciting is that this town is certified by the Swedish organization ”Friends of School Meals”. This organization promotes good food for schools and pre-schools and is financed by The Federation of Swedish Farmers – LRF – an interest and business organisation for the green industry.
Today around 10% of the produce used in school meals in Lysekil is organic and the school meals service buys from a local meat supplier. Gunilla told us that Lysekil tries to minimize transports by choosing the right produce and strict requirements must be met when purchasing.
“It’s our responsibility to take a leading role. We have to maintain a constructive dialogue with our local decision makers and demonstrate the outcome of the measures we propose. It’s important that the politicians know about food. As meals manager I come along to the committees and tell them about how we work and what we need if our work with school meals is to be successful.”
Can’t we use a rake or something?”
Out in the playground a handful of pupils are hanging on to the weighed down apple tree. Julia is desperately trying to reach the biggest and reddest apple, which of course hangs just out of reach.
“We’ve been to the supermarket where the pupils got material and fruit. That was the start of our theme week and now we’re trying out material from the School Meals Project.” Class teacher Maj-Lis inspires and informs. The pupils have been learning about banana cultivation in a brochure from The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. A text that gave rise to many thoughts.
“When we read about bananas I thought we shouldn’t really eat them,” says Judith thoughtfully. Mari thinks it would be better to grow them ourselves – if we can. Stina found out that the bananas were harvested by children – and she thinks these children should be going to school instead.
What should we eat then, if we are to be healthy and at the same time protect the environment? Grade 4-5 have lots of good answers. Olga and Robin summarise:
“If we eat too much meat then there won’t be enough to round for everybody. And we can help the world by not releasing toxins into the environment.