The Commune of Bagno Ripoli, Slow Food Ripoli and the sixteen participating schools have created a strong network which are determined to deliver quality food to as many school children as possible. Continuing their work and now with the opportunity to showcase their progress to a larger network within the ESHF project, the commune is developing creative ways to deal with waste and introduce bio dynamic ingredients to the menu, all the while working with the wider community of parents, teachers, citizens, producers and other stakeholders.
The community canteen, which services all sixteen schools, has made great progress towards the provision of good, clean and fair food. From a centralized kitchen, the catering company SIAF serves more than 2,000 students from ages one to fifteen (preschool to middle school) with a snack and lunch each day, transported to the schools from no more than 5 km away. Approximately 80% of produce used comes from within Italy and 15% percent of the produce is sourced from the local area, including fresh fruits, olive oil and bread, with additional plans in action to source local fish and fresh eggs. “At the basis of a good canteen service is the choice of quality raw materials: We favor organic, seasonal and local ingredients,” says Patrizia Bucelli, representative of the municipality.
An Active Community
In Italy where canteens are partly funded and run by the municipality, having a supportive municipality that believes in providing good food to improve both the health of children and the community, is an advantage. For the last five years the Commune di Bagno Rapoli has encouraged local farmers to produce fruit, vegetables and olive oil to use in school meals. SIAF has held the tender for the past nine years and in that time has taken a systematic approach to providing food for the schools, demonstrating that good, clean and fair quality food is also economically and practically possible in school catering.
Another important aspect of the school’s success is that teachers are completely involved, from teaching about food in the classroom through to serving food to students at lunchtime. The older students are also involved by serving food to the younger students.
A Convivial Canteen
The philosophy behind mealtime, according to Patrizia Bucelli, is that “we don’t sit at the table to eat, we sit at the table to eat together. When children are at the table they can learn many things about taste, spending quality time with people, about traditions and much more.” It is no wonder then that the project is appropriately named “I luoghi dell’incontro: mangiare bene insieme” (“Meeting Places: Eating Well Together”).
Involving Mamma and Papa
Keeping parents in the loop through communicating information about food and the school canteen has been a vital part of the project. The municipality and SIAF have set up a website where they post recipes, information about seasonal menus and raw ingredients used, as well as information about key decisions, so families can keep up to date with the project and better understand and appreciate the food that their children eat.
To further involve parents, the network has created an initiative called “Genitori si diventa...in cucina”, (Parents become...in the kitchen), consisting of a number of different workshops that family members can attend to increase their understanding and experience of food. For example, parents and their children can attend a cooking workshop and then eat together; cooking workshops for teenagers involving them inviting their parents to a dinner that they cook themselves; workshops for parents only, where they can rediscover traditional foods and tastes and learn about seasonal ingredients; visits to producers and farms; and workshops on taste and seasonality facilitated by experts for parents and teachers.
With a good system of waste separation in place, the schools are now working to address this issue dynamically by reducing the amount of food waste created in the first place. Over the last three years the schools have been monitoring kitchen waste: Students take the leftovers, weigh them and then record the results, which then go to determining the portion sizes of the future meals.
Through the project “Non Sprechiamo” (Let’s not Waste) the schools have found another innovative way to address this issue by using the leftover fruit from the school lunch and using it in jams-making workshops with children and parents.
In an additional stage of the project, the community has decided to trial a menu based on bio dynamic ingredients for one year starting in September 2010, after being approached by a bio dynamic farmer who offered to supply produce for the canteen.