Many parents are dissatisfied with the kindergarten meals
Many a Norwegian kindergarten do not live up to the parents’ expectation regarding serving the children healthy and varied food, according to the Norwegian Consumer Council and the Food and Nutrition Federation.
Magnus (4) cuts himself in the finger and Sara (5) gets tears in her eyes from the leek, but eagerly continues to cut vegetables for today’s lunch at the Espira Grefsen Stasjon kindergarten in Oslo.
– The meatballs must be even size, chef Worachat «Ton» Jurodram reminds the crew, while Samuel (4) is rolling meat as if his own life depends on it.
They stand at shiny stainless steel benches in a kitchen that must be the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s wet dreams come true.
The 130 children in the Espira Kindergarten, which opened in 2016, get hot food served once a day along with two bread meals. The parent pays NOK 500 kroner in costs on top of the kindergarten fee for this every month.
Every Norwegian kindergarten does not put this much effort into the meals.
– I will not say that it is easy. It’s about priorities and funds you may not have, says the Deputy Leader of the Espira kindergarten at Grefsen, Line Bye.
Expects healthy food
Many kindergartens do not meet the parents’ expectations for the meals, according to the report«Nutrition for Life and Learning». Eight out of ten parents expect healthy meals to be served, according to a survey among parents with children in kindergartens, that Norstat has conducted on behalf of the Consumer Council.
But only a meagre 1 in 5 (21 per cent) of the respondents can agree to that «the kindergarten offers a good selection of healthy food», to a bigger or lesser degree, and 6 per cent state outright that they disagree completely with the statement.
Inadequate equipment, facilities and lack of competence among the staff are the major problems. The kindergarten must comply to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s strict hygiene requirements.
Bye says that they have never received complaints about the added cost, even though the children in the kindergarten come from all levels of society. The offer of food helps to level out differences, according to Bye.
The kindergarten benefits from a large-scale operation and has good deals with wholesalers, modern kitchen facilities and can boast of their own chef. Such conditions do not exist everywhere, says Bye, who previously worked in a kindergarten she describes as «a wagon shed». Even so, there was hot food served there as well.
The responsibility of the municipality
– The municipalities must ensure that kindergartens have what they need in order to serve healthy, varied food, says Arnt Steffensen, Leader of the Food and Nutrition Federation (Trade Union). The federation organizes institutional chefs and others who work with preparing food and nutrition.
– At the end of the day, It is the responsibility of the municipalities, he says.
– This is about investing in the future. If it can cause only a small part of the kids to avoid lifestyle-related diseases, which are incredibly costly, it will pay off in the long run, he says.
Anne Kristin Vie, who is the Leader of the Consumer Council’s department for Public Services and Health, says that the children have the right to healthy food, and refer to the Directorate of Health’s guidelines.
– We want to put the spotlight on good examples to show that it’s possible, says Vie, and reminds of the fact that porridge is both healthy and tastes good, so good and trendy in fact, that dedicated porridge restaurants have started to appear.
The report tells about kindergartens who manage to serve healthy food under simpler conditions than at the spick and span kitchen at Grefsen.
several success factors are highlighted:
- Commitment by the kindergarten management and the municipality
- Knowledge about food preparation and a healthy diet by the employees.
- Involving the children in the preparing of the food.
- Better information to the parents.
Changes to the guidelines
The Consumer Council and the Food and Nutrition Federation calls for a separate food and meal policy in the municipalities.
The Directorate of Health, according to the plan, will present the revised guidelines for meals in the kindergarten this autumn after a proposal was assessed last year.
The meals served in the kindergartens must be healthy and varied and in line with national guidelines, the Consumer Council and the Food and Nutrition Federation demand in their joint report.
The framework plan states that the kindergarten is to help children develop a fondness for food and learn healthy habits. Even if the kindergarten is not required to serve food, many do so anyway. The kindergarten can require the parents to pay for the meals.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today