A study conducted in 2010 showed that only 40 out of the 2,800 schools in Catalonia had an organic canteen. However, most of them valued their service positively without any consideration as to where and how the food was produced, whether it was appropriate for children’s needs, or its degree of sustainability. In October 2013, some food, nutrition and education professionals decided to found Menjadors Ecològics with the objective of introducing more healthy, educational and sustainable models in school canteens.
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Website : https://www.menjadorsecologics.cat
- Local producers, most of them small-sized, in organic farming and close to schools
- Companies managing school canteens
- Paediatricians and nutritionists, who validate the menus ∙ Public and private schools, their staff, students and their parents
- NGOs involved in food sovereignty
- City councils and regional authorities
- Providing support and training to all the parties involved in the process of transforming school canteens
- Promoting direct sourcing from local producers to ensure their continuity, favour the establishment of new producers and reduce transportation
- Prioritising the daily consumption of seasonal vegetables, a balance between animal and vegetable proteins, and the inclusion of all the produce variety of the area
- Accompanying children all through the lunch time
Legal framework & BudgetMenjadors Ecològics (Organic Dining Rooms) is a non-profit association. It has a volunteer Board of Directors, which works with 2 freelancers on a regular basis and 4 others more occasionally. The annual budget is around € 35,000. The main sources of funding are voluntary contributions by people, companies or organisations (such as the Carasso Foundation) and the services provided. In 2014, a crowd-funding was carried out for the design of the website, the introduction of the association and an interactive map of participating schools.
ActivitiesMenjadors Ecològics provides integrated advice and support to canteens, including a diagnosis of the current service and a feasibility study of the organic dining service, support in the design and use of an organic school garden, review of menus or proposal of healthy menus for the different seasons, and advice on the assembly of a new kitchen or the adaptation of the existing one. The association also offers services focused on facilitating the change process for all parties involved: audits, courses, workshops and talks. Finally, it implements policy advocacy activities to encourage new regulations and procedures that favour local and organic products in school canteens.
>Innovation & OutcomesThe main innovation of this initiative is considering schools as an essential link in the agri-food chain. Making school canteens more sustainable is important not only to better feed and educate children, but also to transform the whole food system. The first 4 years of existence of the association have seen a rapid development of organic canteens state-wide. The association supported this process in many cities of Catalonia (Barcelona, Mataró, Mollet del Vallès, etc.) and the rest of Spain.