The "hot question" of the school meals: it was smooth only on paper...
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The "hot question" of the school meals: it was smooth only on paper...

14 September , 09:58Society
This year, on September 1, a project of free hot meals for all primary school students was launched. As you know, the president of Russia insisted on the adoption of this law. Regional officials saluted and proceeded to implement.

However, the first weeks of the law's implementation caused a flood of criticism and outrage.

Irina Mishina

According to FZ-47 of March 1, 2020, students in grades 1-4 must receive hot meals at least once a day, and the menu contains at least one hot dish and hot drink. Moscow parents immediately threw up their hands in surprise: "What, in fact, has changed?" The fact is that even before that, the so-called "first breakfast" in the elementary grades of Moscow schools was traditionally free. Hot lunches in the "beginning", however, were also free - but only for the "beneficiaries". In other words, nothing has changed in the area of free meals for Moscow schoolchildren in connection with the presidential decree. And, by the way, about the word "hot". Breakfast is usually porridge, scrambled eggs, casserole, sausage... By definition, they are served hot.

In general, after September 1, Moscow parents began to loudly indignant - both on forums, and in social networks, and in schools. Most often, they were surprised by the fact that, as before, only families of "benefit recipients" are entitled to a free lunch. We asked the Moscow Department of Education to clarify what the President meant in his message to the Federal Assembly when it came to free hot meals for students in grades 1-4?

As explained in this department, the president did not actually promise any free lunches to junior schoolchildren. It was about "free hot meals, which from September 1 will be allocated to all primary school students at least once a day". “All students in grades 1-4 get free hot breakfasts. Also, all children from large and socially unprotected families are provided with free two hot meals a day until graduation. It can be both lunch and breakfast, depending on the shift in which the child is studying", - explained in the capital's department of education.

In other words, no additional free "buns" will shine for Moscow schoolchildren. The same situation is in Yekaterinburg and other cities. Many regional officials confirm that hot breakfasts have been fed to children before. They just used to do it at the expense of the regional budget, but now at the expense of the federal budget. And yes, additional "hot meals" will really be available only for "beneficiaries".

For whom was the new law adopted?

It turns out that free hot breakfasts were not available in many regions of Russia until September 1, 2020. Regional authorities somewhere simply did not finance them, but somewhere they paid "on a leftover basis".

“If in some regions children were fed free of charge, at the expense of regional and municipal budgets, now this food will be for the joint money of the federal and local budgets. Whether it will be lunch or breakfast depends on which shift the child is studying. Preferential categories of children, as before, receive free meals at the expense of the founders of schools, and in each region the range of these preferential categories is different. The arrival of federal money in school meals, and in a large amount, made it possible not only to increase the cost of meals for younger students, but also to recommend a more balanced menu due to federal developments. The norms in each region must be adapted to specific regional characteristics: in some regions, children eat more fish, and somewhere it is customary to eat not beef, but mutton", - explained Anna Zhurba, the head of the media block of the Institute of Industry Nutrition, ANO.

Некоторые поставшики питания доставляют "горячие школьные завтраки" в таком виде.

But here it was not without incidents. By the beginning of the school year, it turned out that more than 20 regions of Russia had not received budgetary funding, and there they had to enforce the "law on hot meals for primary schoolchildren" at their own expense. In this regard, they even created a special working group that dealt with this issue, and on August 11, "hot meals for primary school" were discussed at a meeting in the government, in which the president himself took part.

The working group had a weighty argument: “All schools in the region must be ready for the school year. Failure to comply with this requirement would lead to serious discrimination against children, deprived of funding for large regions where 1-2 schools might not be ready”. In the end, it was decided that all schools that are willing to serve hot meals receive federal funding. “Those schools that are not ready by September 1 should be brought in line with the requirements of the regional authorities. At present, all constituent entities of the Russian Federation, without exception, receive federal funding for hot free meals", - the Institute of Industry Nutrition told us.

In general, the very wording “providing hot meals for schoolchildren” has always puzzled me. As you know, many schools, for various reasons, have switched to outsourcing (catering services) instead of preparing fresh food for children in their own canteens. That is, in the case of receiving school food from a supplier, it is, in fact, not about "hot food", but about heating it up? With this question, we turned to the ANO "Institute of Industry Nutrition". “Both outsourced meals and cooking in the school canteen are equally beneficial for schoolchildren. The decision of which option to choose remains with the founders of the school: which one will be more effective. After all, it is far from every canteen that you can cook food, just as it is far from being profitable to attract outsourcing everywhere”, - said Anna Zhurba, a representative of the Industry Nutrition Institute.

However, parents still have complaints about the quality of nutrition in the first two weeks of the school year. This is recognized both in the ONF and in the branch institutes that control the situation: “The first week of the“ open line ”organized by the ONF has shown that there are many problems and complaints. The most frequent complaints from parents are the breakfast and lunch menu, the quality of the food, the lack of a clear understanding of who is being fed breakfast and who is still being served with lunch. There are also questions among those who receive food at their own expense - in a number of regions the cost of such meals has increased, which has caused questions from parents”, - the Institute of Industry Nutrition explained to us.

Школьный завтрак. Очередь в 63-ю школу г. Тюмени. Фото ВКонтакте.

Another question arises. Under quarantine conditions due to the coronavirus epidemic, the admission of parents to educational institutions is closed. How in such conditions can you control the new nutritional conditions, its quantity and quality? From experience, I can say that all the "working groups" of parental food control committees have ceased to exist after September 1, 2020. Does this mean that meals according to the new rules will occur uncontrollably in schools? “As for the entrance to the school, in agreement with the leadership of each school separately, parental committees can be present in canteens, measure the temperature of food, because no one will eat cold food. You can weigh portions, watch the reaction of children. The school meals menu should be posted on the school's website”, - Anna Zhurba, a representative of the Institute of Industry Nutrition, assured us.

The idea is great. There is very little left: for all representatives of school administrations to hear it. In the meantime, most parents of schoolchildren complain not only about the impossibility of such control, but also about the absence of a menu on the school's website. And this, you see, is important: in the end, there are allergic children who are contraindicated in certain foods. There are simply children who do not eat this or that food. In this case, the question of replacing in the menu could be raised. But so far, the regional authorities and most of the school administrations, apparently, are not getting their hands on this. True, the ANO Institute of Industry Nutrition reports cases of "feedback" with parents in the regions: "The example of Barnaul showed that requests from parents with regard to the menu are taken into account both by the founders and food factories".

Another question arises. Due to the fact that in the context of a pandemic, fulfilling the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor, many schools "separate" the flows of schoolchildren, in some educational institutions they began to study in two shifts. How will children in grades 1-4 be provided with "hot breakfasts"? After all, most of them had eaten at home in the morning. The ANO Institute of Industry Nutrition explained to us that in this case “for the first shift - a hot breakfast, for the second shift - a hot lunch or afternoon snack”.

In connection with the requirements of Rospotrebnadzor for the separation of student flows and the observance of social distance in some schools, another problem arose. It is not about hot food, but about access to it. To prevent children from crossing, the time of their stay in the dining room is changed. And schoolchildren in grades 5-11, for example, who had breakfast at home at 7-8 in the morning, can now have lunch at school only after the 6th lesson, that is, at about 14.20. That is, children, in fact, spend 6-7 hours at school without food. Many children began to secretly bring "rations" from home, although the school administration does not welcome this. Comes to comical cases. Here's one such description from social media:

“The school has 16 primary classes (4 in each parallel). Observing the necessary distance, only three classes of 30 people can be in the dining room at a time. How many changes does it take to feed 16 classes? And count! But keep in mind that there are only four lessons in grades 1 - 3 now. So some of the children eat at the end of the last lesson. I became a witness of such now obligatory breakfast. According to the idea of the administration, each class should be completed in 7 (!) Minutes. What is there! All twenty minutes of recess was spent feeding three classes. The last of the parallel class stood in the corridor in front of the dining room door, but not salty went to class - their breakfast was postponed to the next break. The result is sad. Fifth graders can enter the cafeteria after their fifth or sixth lesson (and they have six in total). Other middle parallels can only eat in an organized way after school. Well, high school students - before their seventh lesson. How do 5-11 grades eat? After all, they are children too, and they also want to eat. And they began to bring food from home. But where and how to eat it? They expose from the offices for recess: it is necessary to ventilate. What can you eat and drink on the move in the hallway? Especially careless ones go to the toilet and take out lunch boxes while sitting on the toilet. And other squeamish people film it on the phone. Fun. Someone would explain to me: why all this circus?”, - the schoolboy's mother is indignant, miraculously penetrated into the school.

As they say, it was smooth on the paper only, but they forgot about the ravines...

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