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Educazione Slow Food - educazione alimentare e del gusto

CEIP Gaspar Remiro School, Epila, Spain

From Farm to Lunch Tray

Situated in Epila, located in the Zaragoza province, north east Spain, the CEIP Gaspar Remiro school will tap into the area’s rich organic agriculture as it develops its ESHF project. Working with the Slow Food Zaragoza convivium, the school plans to introduce some of the regions traditional foods to the canteen, as well as further develop sensory appreciation of quality foods using Slow Food’s taste education kit “Journey to the Origins of Taste”.

A History of Farming

The region of Zaragoza has a long history of agriculture and for centuries has been one of the greatest areas for horticulture and fruit growing due partly to the powerful irrigation network that carries water coming from the Pyrenees Mountains. Now, a growing network of farmers, local government, schools and Slow Food is working towards continuing these agricultural traditions and utilizing long-forgotten resources to improve food in the schools of the region.  The Slow Food Zaragoza convivium began working with the CEIP Gaspar Remiro School through the ESHF project, and are looking at the long-term objectives of the project, with the aim of making the school a model of best practice which others can learn from.

Providing better food in schools is an issue that has been gaining momentum in the area for the past several years. In 2004 and 2005 the city of Zaragoza launched a campaign to increase fruit and vegetable consumption amongst schools and in the wider community, and in 2008 began an initiative entitled Mensa Civica  (Civic Canteen), dedicated to providing sustainable catering.

Shortening the Food Chain

Even though there is a strong gastronomic and agriculture tradition in the region, no local produce is used in the school’s catering; the majority is industrial and sourced from other areas in the country.  Currently an external catering company provides a lunch for the school’s 452 students that is prepared and transported from up to 50km away.

“We have begun talks with the catering service and would like to see nutrition issues be addressed through providing foods that are made with local and organic produce. We have also started to look at ways recycle waste and reduce transport pollution,” says Jorge Hernandez, Slow Food Zaragoza Convivium Leader. 

The school and Slow Food Zaragoza would like to see this change and are starting to foster connections with local organic and small-scale farmers in order to introduce their food into the menu, including organic cous cous, organic traditional varieties rice and a selection of local breads. “Building a well-equipped central kitchen could be one way to fulfil these goals, not only for the school but also in the future for the other schools in the area”, says Jorge Hernandez.

Discovering the Senses

In May 2010 Slow Food Zaragoza held a workshop for teachers to learn the best ways to use the Slow Food education kit as well as experience the kit from the perspective of a student: discovering the world of the senses and nutrition through guided activities. The teachers then held a series of eight sensory workshops with 100 children aged three to five years old using the education kit and putting the concepts they had learnt into action.
The school is also developing opportunities for students to get involved in school meal service by helping out with pre and post kitchen jobs. They will also create a space near the canteen dedicated to workshops and games about food (nutrition, production, distribution, etc), and music and storytelling for relaxation. They also plan to schedule field trips for students and parents to visit farms and meet with producers.

The school would also like to see a greater consumption of fruit and vegetables amongst school children and multicultural foods introduced and promoted and will develop activities through European canteen project to achieve these goals.

A Day of Success

The school joined in with over 1000 other events worldwide on the first ever Terra Madre Day held on December 10, 2009. The convivium organized for several organic producers to provide food for the canteens of three public schools in the area whose students enjoyed local and organic foods form the Aragon region.  Producers and teachers had the chance to come together and share ideas and make plans for the European canteen project.

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