Edenred launches the “Meal and Classroom” program

Aurel Constantin 14/06/2023 | 11:00

Edenred, in partnership with the Association for Values in Education (AVE) and the Association of Private Schools (ASP), is launching “Meal and Classroom”, a long-term program that aims to support 50 public schools nationwide to develop their management capacity and succeed in attracting funding opportunities. As part of the program, ASP Romania will develop, in collaboration with professional chefs, nutritionists, and health specialists, a Healthy School Recipe Guide, which will initially be presented in workshops to chefs in 50 schools and kindergartens. The guide will then be made available free of charge online to the entire network of public and private pre-university schools.

 

The initiative is in line with European public policies on children’s access to healthy food through hot meals in schools and is in line with EduFOOD, the strategic direction for 2023-2026 in Romania of the FOOD Program (Fighting Obesity through Offer & Demand), a European initiative inspired by Edenred. FOOD is the largest European public-private project launched and coordinated by Edenred in 2009, active in 11 EU countries, including Romania.

In Romania, about 30% of children aged 7-9 are overweight, while between 15% and 20% are obese, according to a World Health Organization report published in 2022. In this context, the “Meal and Classroom”, program aims to act on the two main components that contribute with impact to raising the nutrition levels of pupils in school: education and improving the quality of meals offered to children in schools.

“Today’s students with access to proper nutrition are tomorrow’s employees with healthy eating habits. Improving the quality of children’s meals reduces the risk of lifelong illness and can make them up to 20% more productive as adults, according to the World Health Organization. Edenred is an advocate of balanced nutrition and lunch breaks, and while until now our initiatives have focused on employees, with the new EduFOOD strategic direction, we aim to come up with sustainable solutions and effective resources in adopting healthy eating and in the early stages of forming balanced eating habits, i.e. during school, for students. “Meal and Classroom” aims to generate and develop complementary solutions to the governmental effort on healthy eating in schools, helping both to maximize the positive effects and to scale them up at the national level,” said Dana Sîntejudean, Regional Director Edenred Central Europe.

“Even though some schools in Romania receive the necessary funds to provide meals for students, many of them have not yet managed to effectively implement a solution due to the lack of infrastructure. We provide school principals with information and guidance on how to attract the funds they need and how to implement the right solutions depending on the type of school they run. Every school principal is a vector of change for the whole community they are part of, which is why we support them”, said Andreea Nistor, Executive Director of AVE.

“The Healthy Recipe Guide will be a practical tool that will inspire educational establishments to create school menus. The healthy recipe templates will be a source of inspiration, helping schools to provide balanced, tasty meals in line with nutritional standards. This will promote healthy eating, efficiency, and community involvement in providing optimal nutrition education for children,” said Cristian Comșa, President of ASP.

 “Meal and Classroom”: a model of cross-sector partnership in developing food solutions for students

 “The Meal and Classroom” program will run in two phases and schools will be selected through a public call, which is due to open in the coming weeks. In the first stage, 50 schools will be identified whose principals will enter intensive training through the School Leadership and Management Academy, a program coordinated by AVE for principals or deputy principals in schools, kindergartens, and high schools in Romania. They will learn how to transform the schools they lead and attract the non-governmental and European funding they need to develop the necessary infrastructure in schools to provide students with a hot meal solution, but also for other school-related challenges and opportunities. Participants will work closely with a mentor from the business sector, with whom they will identify strengths and problem areas in their school and learn how to develop an action plan to bring real change to their school.

The second phase of the project focuses on education and the adoption of healthy eating habits. Schools will receive support in terms of feeding students and increasing the nutritional value of their food, and chefs will participate in training on how to cook healthier and more delicious food for children. The Association of Private Schools, in partnership with Edenred, will produce a guide with useful information on nutritionally balanced diets, as well as a collection of best practice models on healthy menus and recipes for pupils.

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