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Educazione Slow Food - educazione alimentare e del gusto

The Community School, Hoves Belgium

Making Quality a Priority

Amongst a very active community including many artisans, cooks, parents, teachers, six other schools and the Slow Food Silly convivium, the community school has high ambitions to improve the quality of the food served in its canteen by introducing local and seasonal produce. “We also aim to concentrate on seasonality by visiting producers, working in the school garden and using fruit and vegetables from the garden in our canteen,” says Sabine Storme, Slow Food Silly Convivium Leader.

Past Triumphs

Giving attention to food that tastes good and is good for the body is not a new idea for this school of just over 100 students located in the small town of Hoves in the commune of Silly, Antwerp.  Since the late 1990’s activities in nutrition education have been a priority and more recently the children have been involved in tastings, sensory laboratories, visits to local producers and farms, and cooking workshops using local seasonal produce. 

After securing funding in 2008 the school built two fresh water fountains and developed a garden where, after preparing the land and planting, the students can collect, cook, eat and learn about many different types of fruit and vegetables.  

An Active Year

In March 2010 the community school received the Bouger Manger award presented by the French Ministers of Education and the French Community Health for their project  Slow Food et les saveurs de Silly à l'école (Slow Food and the Tastes of Silly at School) In April, students joined the international celebration of Grandmothers’ Day [LINK] - a day to pass on precious inherited skills from grandparent to grandchild - by preparing recipes with their grandmothers, which were then collected by a public library under the project “Les aînés se racontent aux enfants » (The Elders Tell the Children). In September during National Slow Food Week Belgium, the community school will be one of six schools that will serve its students tasty and nutritious breakfasts and lunches, each day highlighting a different local product.  

Good, Clean and Fair - on the Menu and in the Classroom

Working closely with a dietician, the community school has already developed a healthy eating plan for its canteen that includes the provision of well-balanced meals for the children and a complete ban on chips, candy and cola, and vending machines on the school grounds.

Since the school is already working to improving the diet of its students, participation in the ESHF project offers the opportunity to build on these achievements and make further improvements by concentrating on the quality of the produce used in the kitchen.  Those involved in the project are now working towards sourcing ingredients and products that are aligned with Slow Food’s guiding tenets of good, clean and fair: food that tastes good, is produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health, and provides food producers with fair compensation for their work.

One of the major challenges in this respect is that all of the food served in the canteen is currently sourced, processed and delivered by an external company. Over the course of the year the school aims to address this challenge by working with the wider community on issues of cost and supply.

As well as transforming the produce used in the canteen, the school also plans to undertake further educational activities to help students to understand the concepts of good, clean and fair, such as holding taste education workshops during meals.  It is hoped that educating students on the values of food will help them gain a better understanding of what they are eating and assist them in making better daily food choices now and throughout the rest of their lives.

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