One of Slow Food’s key missions is to promote quality everyday food that will impact positively on the health and lifestyle of individuals and communities. It works towards this goal through a wide range of educational initiatives and projects, with a particular focus on introducing good, clean and fair food to public canteens in schools, hospitals and workplaces in order to have the greatest reach.
European Schools for Healthy Food is a Slow Food project which works with ten school in nine countries to improve canteen meals and children's food habits, supported by the European Commission. Each school works on various aspects of improving their canteen service - reviewing tenders, shortening the food chain to use fresher, seasonal local food, addressing waste management and promoting healthy food – as well as integrating food and taste education into their classrooms. Participating schools are connected through a networking website where they share updates on their progress and join international Slow Food campaigns such as Terra Madre Day and Grandmothers’ Day.
In the USA, more than 300 Eat-Ins (shared meals in public spaces) were held in September 2009 to launch the Slow Food USA's Time for Lunch campaign – a drive to improve the food that more than 31 million children eat at school everyday, and to lobby the American Congress to take serious action to prevent child obesity and health problems in its revision of the Child Nutrition Act. Legislators were being asked to add at least $1 billion to the Act, as well as to strengthen nutrition standards and fund grants for schools to start farm-to-school programs. Over the course of a year and a half (the bill was delayed), more than 150,000 people visited, wrote and called their Congress people and signed a petition in support of the campaign. On December 13, 2010,school food advocates cheered when President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, providing an additional $4.5 billion over ten years to federal child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch program. While the final bill fell short of the initial goals of the Time for Lunch Campaign, it was a major improvement over the existing legislation. Improvements include more money spent on each lunch, 40 million dollars in grants for Farm to School, stronger nutrition standards and increased ease for low-income children to register for free lunch.
Slow Food France launched a campaign to improve public catering services in various cities across the country, in collaboration with the local authorities. They have also produced a video on good practices in school canteens and organized a summer university in 2009 on the topic of hospital, school and company canteens. Leading the way with their local action, Slow Food Bayonne Convivium has been working with local primary schools to improve the food served in their canteens for several years. Today more than 4,000 pupils are served school lunches by a social enterprise, which employs both unemployed and disabled persons, from produce sourced within a 30km radius and includes one fully organic meal each week.
Slow Food Italy conducted a survey on the quality of food served in schools across the country has drafted a Manifesto for Good, Clean and Fair Canteens. It is also working with the Piedmont Regional Authority Department of Education and the University of Gastronomic Sciences to improve catering services at universities.
Slow Food Italy also drew up the Charter of the rights to pleasure, conviviality and food quality of the ill, together with the Piedmont Agriculture and Health Departments and the Cancer Ward of the San Giovanni Hospital in Turin, to outline some basic principles for the diet of hospital patients. A good, clean and fair canteen program is now operating in this hospital as well as the Alice Hospital in Darmstadt, Germany. The Alice Hospital program has developed guidelines to choose food for their kitchen by assessing food producers and their products and today offer patients good and healthy food and encourages the growth of a local food network.