One of Slow Food’s key missions is to promote quality everyday food that will impact positively on the health and lifestyle of individuals and communities. It works towards this goal through a wide range of educational initiatives and projects, with a particular focus on introducing good, clean and fair food to public canteens in schools, hospitals and workplaces in order to have the greatest reach.
In Europe, this has taken the shape of the European Schools for Healthy Food.
The main objectives of the network are:
• To improve school meals so that they are fresher, more flavorsome and balanced
• To promote conviviality at the table
• To encourage taste education inside and outside the classroom and during meals to better understand what we are eating and make better meal choices
• To respect the environment through sustainable production, reduction of food waste and recycling
• To eat seasonal, local and sustainable food and promote a shorter production chain
• To develop school gardens, using school garden produce in the canteen
• Organisation of trips to visit producers and their workplaces
• To learn about geographical territory and traditions behind each dish
• Formation and training of a canteen staff
• Promotion of exchange and twinning of schools in the network
Slow Food assists as much as possible with material, advice, by helping the network share ideas and information and by giving projects as much visibility as possible.
In the USA, more than 300 Eat-Ins (shared meals in public spaces) were held in September 2009 to launch the Slow Food USA's Time for Lunch campaign - a drive to improve the food that more than 31 million children eat at school everyday, and to lobby the American Congress to take serious action to prevent child obesity and health problems in its revision of the Child Nutrition Act in 2010. Legislators were being asked to add at least $1 billion to the Act, as well as to strengthen nutrition standards and help schools start farm-to-school programs. More than 150,000 people wrote or signed a petition in support of the campaign. On August 5, 2010, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, providing an additional $4.5 billion over ten years to federal child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch program. At the time of publishing, the House is yet to pass the bill, due September 30.
Slow Food France launched its campaign “Haute Qualité Alimentaire“ to improve public catering services in various cities across the country, with collaboration from local authorities, including Millau and Bègles. It has also produced a video on good practices in school canteens and organized a summer university in 2009 on the topic of hospital, school and company canteens. Leading the way with its local action,
the Slow Food Bayonne Convivium has been working with local primary schools to improve the food served in their canteens for several years. Today more than 4,000 pupils are served school lunches by a social enterprise, which employs both unemployed and disabled persons, uses produce sourced within a 30km radius and includes one fully organic meal each week.
Slow Food Italy conducted a survey on the quality of food served in schools across the country and has drafted a Manifesto for Good, Clean and Fair Canteens. It is also working with the Piedmont Regional Authority Department of Education and the University of Gastronomic Sciences to improve catering services at universities. Slow Food Italy also drew up the Charter of the rights to pleasure, conviviality and food quality of the ill, together with the Piedmont Agriculture and Health Departments and the Cancer Ward of the San Giovanni Hospital in Turin, to outline some basic principles for the diet of hospital patients.
A good, clean and fair canteen program is now operating in this hospital as well as the Alice Hospital in Darmstadt, Germany. The Alice Hospital program has developed guidelines to choose food for the kitchen by assessing food producers and their products and today offer patients good and healthy food and encourages the growth of a local food network.