Thursday 15 March marks the sixth International School Meals Day (ISMD), an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness of healthy eating and good nutrition for all children.
Since its launch in 2013, International School Meals Day has brought together students and teachers to take part in food activities and share recipes as well as provide policymakers, food and nutrition specialists, businesses and health professionals the chance to discuss the importance of school meals globally and its impact on wellbeing and education.
Managed by national agency Children in Scotland, ISMD’s theme this year is ‘My Food’, an international food competition with submitted recipes from school children worldwide to produce an ISMD Children’s Cookbook.
Children in Scotland received more than 146 entries for its cookbook, however have only selected 20 for the book for publication on the day.
Head of Engagement and Learning at Children in Scotland, Simon Massey said: “We know that healthy, nutritious food is essential for physical and mental health and wellbeing for adults and young people, and mealtimes can be positive social experiences from the earliest age.
“We are always keen to demonstrate the positive effect of involving children and families in the preparation and enjoyment of healthy meals.”
The winners come from schools in the UK, Mali, Honduras, Japan, Laos, Somalia and France. Each child was asked to make their favourite meal at home with an adult, write out the recipe and take or draw a picture of the completed dish.
The United Kingdom
A couple of UK schools discussed plans for the day, with a Bowmore pupil winning ISMD’s Children’s Cookbook as well as three students from Grantown Primary School.
Beef burger recipe wins for Bowmore Primary School
Bowmore Primary School in Scotland’s nine-year-old student, Josie Rountree was successful with her recipe for a beef burger which consists of 250g of mince, one large onion, salt, pepper and one egg.
In order to celebrate ISMD, the children at Bowmore chose a Chinese lunch theme due to liking the majority of the ingredients and will be invited to taste dishes including chicken noodle soup, vegetable spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken, Chinese chicken curry and upside down pineapple cake.
Class teacher of Year 4 and 5, Linsay MacArthur said: “International Food Day allows the children to talk to each other about their favourite foods and recipes. They have the opportunity to explain why they enjoy these foods as well as discuss the ingredients involved in making these dishes.
“The children have researched about different cultures and the foods and ingredients which are associated with these countries [which] has allowed the children to explore the rich diversity of recipes that are in our world.
“Having a recipe competition allows the winners to share their recipes around the globe. I feel that it is important that more schools get involved as it gives the children a wide range of learning opportunities.”
Three winning recipes from Grantown Primary School
The 11-year-old pupils Robert Flipsen, Tilly Swan and Lily Dunbar all submitted winning recipes on behalf of their school. Tilly and Lily made chocolate brownie recipes while Robert made a crispy pork belly with methods and ingredients listed.
‘Tilly’s Terrific Chocolate Brownies’ contain 275g of margarine, 375g of caster sugar, four eggs, one teaspoon of baking powder, 75g of cocoa powder, 100g of plain flour and one packet of chocolate drops.
Tilly said: “I like these brownies a lot! My mum used to make these brownies for my brother and I all the time when we were younger and she still makes them for our birthdays.
“My granny gave this recipe to my mum and she makes puddings with me and this is one of my favourite cakes!”
Lily’s ‘ooey gooey brownies’ can be enjoyed with ice-cream, raspberries or ‘a simple cup of tea’ while Robert suggests using ‘local free range pork’ for his pork belly recipe.
Headteacher Jill Strachan said: “We are very much a school focused on healthy school meals and celebrating food from around the world.”
Food and nutrition expert, Lindsay Graham is welcoming of the level of support the day has received. She said: “It’s great to see International School Meals Day celebrate another year of school food stories, pictures and recipes from around the globe.
“It’s particularly heartening to see this year’s theme of ‘My Food’ giving children and young people the opportunity to take part in this annual event.
“In Scotland 2018 is The Year of Young People, so it’s very fitting that some of our Scottish schools have had their recipes selected for the cookbook. The cookbook is not only interesting and practical, but also provides an insight into what children are eating around the world, and its contents could form the basis for a range of lessons and classroom activity.”
14-year-olds Tenzin Lafet and Alesandro Peys won for their recipe they made together called Saint Honoré, a choux pastry with Chantilly whipped cream (pictured right), at Albert Le Grand School.
Sainte Marie Bastide and Albert Le Grand trainee teacher Ingrid Vernageau said: “I do believe this event [ISMD] should be celebrated in France indeed, I thought the idea fantastic and loved the competition, my pupils too.
“In French schools, we do pay attention to healthy food and meals are balanced at the canteen, but making it international is a great idea, some schools do it, others are not as involved, I guess it is just a question of organisation.”
In Saga Prefecture, the northwest of Japanese island, Kyushu, Kanzaki School Catering Center teacher Kaori Abe is pleased to celebrate International School Meals with the children.
She said: “Where we work agriculture [flourishes], and we can see rice, wheat, asparagus, soybeans, edamame and strawberry fields in the school district as well.
“We also study making tofu, and natto from soybeans. In this way, children are in an environment where they can feel and learn the local agricultural products closely, and even if we look at the state of lunch, many children are eating firmly.
“However, it seems that children are not aware of the fact that they use the ingredients made in Kanzaki city and Saga for school lunch, and that the meal is made by many people’s efforts. Therefore, we decided to offer the above menu (pictured right: rice with seaweed, deep fried pork, mandarin orange sauce, salad with bonito flakes and lotus root soup with sardine dumplings and milk) because we wanted to tell children that meals are made from delicious ingredients in Saga Prefecture through school meals.”
In Japan, the school lunch programme is a part of education, with aims of ‘sustaining and improving health proper nutrition, fostering understanding, decision-making and eating habits for an appropriate diet and furthering understanding of Japan’s and local region’s traditional cuisine’, according to Ms Abe.
Away from the cookbook, primary schools in the Maputo Province of Mozambique have embarked on a new initiative in its existing McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programme.
Small farms have been established near the schools to produce crops to go with regularly supplied school meals, including a porridge blend of corn and soy flour.
Some of the vegetables are sold in local markets to be reinvested into the farms, ensuring long-term sustainability which helps develop a model for locally based school feeding programmes in the country.
The headmaster of Pedreira Primary School Fidélio Pelembe said: “In the last [health] surveys that we carried out, we didn’t detect any cases of malnutrition.
“This can be the direct result of the establishment of the farm, taking into account that what we produced a variety of nutrients that help the children overcome many health problems which they were facing.”