The recently-reported food poisoning scare in Belgrade primary schools (see news item of 6th October) led to another interview on Serbian television; this time on Jutarnji Program of RTS 1 (the equivalent of BBC’s Breakfast TV), broadcast live on Friday, 13th October. Gordana Kosanović, representing the Ministry of Education and Science (MPNTR), and Steve Quarrie, representing BSN (EUTA), presented the Ministry’s new initiative to identify how the quality of meals for primary schoolchildren in Serbia can be improved, and the progress our Strength2Food project is currently making in collecting information on school meals as a basis to select schools for the pilot meal scheme.
The 14-minute-long interview (available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqUfknW1b0E – in Serbian) described some of the forthcoming developments planned to take place in Serbia, such as the hybrid forum being organised for 27th November in Petnica Science Centre near Valjevo, where all the stakeholders can discuss challenges and opportunities to improve school meal quality, while stimulating greater use of short food supply chains and local producers. The visit by BARILLA staff to Serbia to visit school kitchens and see at first hand the facilities and resources available to school chefs (also expected during November) was also presented. Gordana Kosanović emphasised the new impetus given within the Ministry to improving school meal quality.
The Ministry has now set up an internal working group to study opportunities for improving school meals and encourage more schools to use their existing but unused kitchens. The team will focus on how to improve the criteria in tender documentation for school food procurements, to improve the control of food safety as well as develop standards for food quality. It will also look at ways of discouraging, for example, the availability within schools of vending machines of crisps and chocolate bars. We also advertised the new Serbian website being developed by Strength2Food Ministry staff to provide all Serbian school meal stakeholders with a wide range of educational resources, and standardised, highly nutritious menu suggestions.
Jutarnji Program is Serbia’s premier morning news programme, and the interview will have brought Strength2Food to the attention of many primary schools around Serbia, so we expect the impact of the school meals pilot scheme to extend well beyond the relatively small number of schools that we shall initially be working with. Viewing numbers for the interview should shortly be available.
Head of Education and training at BSN/EUTA