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Educazione Slow Food - educazione alimentare e del gusto

2nd Grammar School, Riga, Latvia

Back to Basics

Introducing educational activities and creating opportunities for the students to become more in touch with what they eat, where food comes from, cultural traditions, the environment and health is one of the goals for the 2nd Grammar School in the ESHF project. In collaboration with the Slow Food Riga Convivium, the school would also like increase local foods and traditional Latvian meals served to students. “Our students come from the city and they never get to see where food comes from, they haven’t seen mushrooms growing in the forest or learnt how to collect vegetables,” says school headmaster Gints umburs.

Ready to Take Action

Situated in the city centre, the school is well equipped with a newly renovated canteen and kitchen where breakfast, lunch and snacks are available for the school’s 700 students. The menu is coordinated in collaboration with the school board with price being an important consideration.

There is a fairly good choice of hot meals available for students, yet the school is concerned that there is too much fried food and would like to change this aspect of the menu. The school has already banned sodas such as coca cola, yet the many available fruit juices are high sugar drinks.

The students currently participate in some food educational activities through domestic economy classes (cooking, sewing, etc.). It is compulsory for them to attend four sessions in the classroom followed by practical activities involving everything from buying ingredients to cooking and then eating together, learning about where food comes from and how it is grown.

Changing the Canteen

In order to improve the students’ diets and increase the sustainability of the canteen, the school would like to introduce more local and traditional foods to the menu. In Latvia, the government subsidizes 20% of the food in the canteen, but it is cheaper to buy imported food than local products (vegetables coming from Poland are currently cheaper than those from Latvia). This is a challenge for the school, as they must decide whether to offer a wider variety of imported products or a smaller selection of seasonal local foods. This is an objective that the school is working on with the ESHF network, to demonstrate how buying local, seasonal food can also be cost effective. The school is also aware of the limits of local food production, and working on ways to programme a growing plan for a longer time period, so that local producers can supply food to the school.

Discovering the Joy of Food

The school will also help students to learn to appreciate food that tastes good and is good for them, for the environment and for those who are involved in its production through food and taste education. The translation of Slow Food's taste education kit Journey to the Origins of Taste from Italian to Latvian will be an essential tool for the further development of sensory educational activities and encourage children to discover the joy of eating.

Additional activities planned include inviting local producers to showcase their produce to the students and preparing baked goods during cooking lessons to sell at the Riga Earth Market, organized by the Slow Food Riga Convivium. Celebrity chef and leader of the local convivium, Martins Ritins, will be invited to cook for the students using local produce in the celebrations of the next Terra Madre Day, Slow Food’s international event to celebrate local food.

“We try to get the students involved in running the project as much as possible,” says Gints umburs who would also like to see more children attend gatherings such as Terra Madre. “They can get a lot out of these experiences and should be involved.”

The 2nd Grammar School’s ESHF project will receive substantial media coverage through the TV show What Can Be Better Than This, hosted by Ritkins. The show will look into topics such as problems in school canteens, how children eat and where the food comes from.

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