Four primary schools in Belgrade have just suffered from an outbreak of food poisoning from a meal provided by a catering company, with 135 children suffering from severe stomach problems and seven briefly hospitalised (Tuesday, 3rd October). This has raised the issue of schools providing their own meals to ensure that health and safety standards are not compromised by awarding tenders to the caterer offering the cheapest meals, whatever the quality.

Fortuitously for Strength2Food, this outbreak occurred the day that BSN staff Steve Quarrie and Ratko Bojovic were at a meeting in Serbia’s state television organisation (RTS) discussing how RTS could help disseminate the project’s activities on school meals in Serbia. This led to an interview the next day for the RTS daily Belgrade news bulletin Beogradska Hronika (Belgrade Chronicle), broadcast on prime time TV on Wednesday evening, 4th October. The item was broadcast twice on Wednesday with official RTS viewing figures for the two broadcasts totalling 2.123 million viewers!

Ratko Bojovic again had an opportunity to explain how our EU project will help improve the quality of meals provided to Serbia’s primary schools.

A YouTube video of the item in Beogradska hronika and Ratko’s interview (in Serbian)
The two Belgrade schools referred to in the video are amongst the rare schools in Belgrade that make their own meals, and are schools that Strength2Food is already working with on the school meals pilot scheme.

The food poisoning incident has also stimulated action within the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (our partner MPNTR) to raise the issue of school meal quality to be considered at the policy level, and a working group is being established within the Ministry to consider this.

Steve Quarrie
Thursday, 5th October