ARCHIV - ILLUSTRATION - Schüler der offenen Ganztagsschule Drusenbergschule in Bochum bekommen am 09.10.2012 ihr Mittagessen auf die Teller portioniert. Die Grünen-Spitzenkandidatin zur NRW-Landtagswahl, Schulministerin, Löhrmann, äussert sich am Dienstag zur Weiterentwicklung des schulischen Ganztags. Foto: Roland Weihrauch/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++ | Verwendung weltweit

From the coming school year onwards, the Berlin education administration wants to take action against the waste of school meals due to too many portions being delivered. The amended ordinance stipulates that children can be excluded from meals if they repeatedly fail to pick up the food they have ordered. In addition, the legal guardians must inform the food provider “at least three days in advance by 9 a.m.” and cancel their child’s participation in the lunch if they are unable to eat or do not want to eat.

With the new regulation, the education administration is reacting to food waste. Complaints have been filed for three years, since families no longer have to pay for school meals in elementary schools. However, it is completely unclear how much food ends up in the garbage because of the defaulting families. The managing director of the caterer Luna and founder of the Association of Berlin School and Kita caterers, Rolf Hoppe, assumes that “less than five percent” of the food in the schools supplied by Luna is not picked up.

In his opinion, the problem of standardized portions weighs heavily. The caterers are contractually obliged to provide the first graders with the same portion sizes as the sixth graders. Even if experience shows that one school eats much more than another or that the younger students eat less, the caterers are not allowed to adjust the portion sizes. As a result, much more food ends up in the garbage than from food that has not been canceled, Hoppe believes.

The topic also drives the Berlin school lunch network. The association invites you to the quality forum “Avoiding food waste” on October 6th. The suggestion came from the Pankow District Parents’ Committee, among others, reports club chairwoman Sabine Schulz-Grewe. However, she also points out that there are major differences between the schools when it comes to the organization of school meals.

If the teachers or educators eat together with the children, participation is better. The premises also played a role and the extent to which the students are forced to eat quickly and restlessly as a result of too small canteens because too many children have to be “smuggled through”, school management reports.

Hoppe’s successor as chairman of the caterer association, which has been operating nationwide since 2019, Ralf Blauert, also has no information on the proportion of over-ordered portions, which incidentally have to be destroyed for hygiene reasons. In any case, he has other concerns on his mind, namely the explosion in food and energy prices. For Berlin, this means that the fixed prices agreed until 2024 urgently need to be renegotiated. Schools report that the food has become noticeably more modest: less choice, more stew.

It’s about a lot of money: School meals cost a total of 180 million euros in tax money, because Berlin is the only federal state that fully finances school meals at primary schools. Hamburg, for example, only reduced its own subsidies in January. However, social transfer recipients continue to get lunch free of charge – also in Hamburg: It is fully financed by the federal government under the Strong Family Act.

In Berlin alone, around 60,000 children in elementary schools would be entitled to this full funding from the federal government, because every third elementary school child comes from families with social transfers. However, Berlin does not receive this million sum because it pays for the food for everyone.

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In view of these enormous costs and the waste of food, the Senate wants to take countermeasures. The new ordinance states: “If the student does not pick up an ordered lunch on more than eight days in a month without an excuse, the food provider must inform the school and the legal guardians about this.”

The school should then “in discussion with the pupil and the legal guardians work towards the ordered lunch being picked up”. If there is no visit to the canteen and the number of unexcused lunches “eight times in two consecutive months”, the food provider should “in agreement with the head teacher terminate the lunch contract at the end of the current month”.