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Mapping study of the school food systems in 12 EU countries

This report presents the results of the mapping study, which was carried out in 12 EU countries and 19 municipalities/regions, and which explored the existing school food systems, school food provision and procurement of food and catering services. A synthesis of the results in the form of a comparative analysis is also part of the report.

Evelin Piirsalu, Ingrid Varov, Kertu Uiboleht, Piret Kuldna / Published on 12 June 2023
Citation

Piirsalu, E., Varov, I., Kaaret, K., Uiboleht, K., Kuldna, P. (2022). Mapping the school food system. D 2.2 joint report of mapping. SchoolFood4Change project.

School lunch. Photo: monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

The report has been developed as part of the SchoolFood4Change (SF4C) project, supported by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. This report presents the results of the project’s mapping study, which explored the existing school food systems, school food provision and procurement of food and catering services. Moreover, as part of the mapping study, the regions also identified barriers and opportunities to implementing sustainable and healthy school meals.

For data collection purposes, two surveys were conducted among the partners. The first survey was sent to the SF4C National Lead Partners, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden. The second survey was sent to regional authorities in Vienna, Ghent, Leuven, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Viimsi, Budapest, Dordogne, Lyon, Essen, Nuremberg, Madrid, Milan, Nuoro, Valencia, Malmö and Umeå. Slovakian and Czech Republic responses covered their all municipalities.

The participating countries and regions are incredibly varied across all metrics, from land area and population to governance structures and procurement methods practised. Differences are evident both when comparing different municipalities but also when comparing schools within the municipalities.The situation in terms of the political framework regarding food, sustainability and public food procurement is quite fragmented.

Half of the studied countries have a food policy in place either on the national or regional levels (in Belgium and Germany). Dietary guidelines are adopted in the majority of the countries, except for the Czech Republic and Hungary, and sustainability requirements in food procurement are practised in slightly over half of the participating countries. However, the specifics of these are rather varied. In some countries, the requirements concern the share of organic food, while others seek specific quality labels.

Most schools in the studied municipalities provide at least lunch every day. In six out of 19 municipalities/regions, breakfast is also served in some schools. The latter is often, that is for an extra charge, not part of the cost of a regular school meal. In seven municipalities, some snacks are also served during the day. Also, in seven of the 19 regions analysed, three meals are offered in kindergartens, whereas in the rest provide only lunch or lunch and a snack.

SEI authors

Evelin Piirsalu

Senior Expert (Green and Circular Economic Transformations Unit)

SEI Tallinn

Ingrid Varov

Junior Expert (Green and Circular Economic Transformations Unit)

SEI Tallinn

Kertu Uiboleht

Programme Assistant (Green and Circular Economic Transformations Unit)

SEI Tallinn

Piret Kuldna

Senior Expert (Green and Circular Economic Transformations Unit)

SEI Tallinn

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