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School canteens wanting to work without catering, four years waiting for the government

  • Many parents’ associations have criticized the quality of food in school canteens and EH Bildu has asked the Basque Government’s Education Advisor, Jokin Bildarratz. The Department of Education responds that audit controls have been carried out when incidents of catering companies have been transferred. Since EH Bildu have recalled what was agreed in Parliament in 2019: to regulate once and for all another model for schools that want to work without catering, but “the Department of Education has put the brakes on this issue of canteens”.

18 April 2023 - 07:44
Last updated: 11:00

EH Bildu Secretary of Education, Ikoitz Arrese, has moved the issue to the Basque Parliament after noting that 83 associations of parents from Bizkaia have had incidents and complaints related to food with the dining room service. Bildarratz is asked by the Department of Education that considers the dining menu of CAPV public schools appropriate, whether they have received complaints about the dining menus and what they have done to solve them.

The answer is that the Department of Education has as a priority to ensure that the menus are reviewed and accepted, that they are “adequate, varied and balanced menus for diners”, for which “the Department of Education has a technical assistance composed of people with accredited and specific training in Human Nutrition and Dietetics”. Regarding the complaints received, they have been related to the modification of the menus without prior notice by the catering companies and the amount served, “to resolve these incidents, the Department has requested catering companies and carried out a follow-up through the audit controls to ensure the correct resolution of those incidents”.

"It is an exhausted model, the quality of the menus is getting worse and worse, management is becoming more and more unbearable and has behind the profit of companies"

"The Department of Education doesn't want to make any changes."

This whole issue has revealed reality, according to Ikoitz Arrese: “It is an exhausted model, the quality of the menus is getting worse, the management is becoming more and more unbearable and the profit of the companies is behind”. However, according to the current law of 2000, public network centres must work with catering companies. Four years ago, in 2019, it was agreed in Parliament to amend this law and to set in motion, among others, two important points: on the one hand, that the centres that so wish have their own kitchen (recently requested several centres); on the other, that the centres decide whether they want to continue functioning by catering or whether they want to use their own kitchen and set up another model.

The regulation of a model that works outside catering companies was left to the Department of Education, but since then no progress has been made, and today schools remain the same, they can only work with catering companies. “And in some centers that have officially requested the installation of the kitchen in the school itself, the works are delayed. What we conclude is that the Department of Education does not want to make changes on this issue,” Arrese said.

Four pilot projects under way

In 2016, the government launched a pilot project in four public schools, driving a new dining model, but the four-year project is lengthening and lengthening, so with the exception of these four centres in the public network and Larrabetzu school (which has developed the dining project outside the system), Arrese recalls that all others have to work with catering companies. In schools participating in the pilot project, “the results are very positive, because with food of zero kilometers the quality of the menus has been improved, because the management is more participatory and community, and because the educational centers have fully valued the positive management,” explains Arrese. For all these reasons, he asks the Department of Education to implement what was agreed in 2019, especially two points: “Build as soon as possible the kitchen to all the centres that want it and regulate a complementary model that is not through catering, involving the agents of the sector”.

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