Nutrition: Freiburg sparks controversy with meatless school meals

The Freiburg resolution for a standard vegetarian menu at day-care centers and elementary schools has sparked a controversy about proper child nutrition.

Nutrition: Freiburg sparks controversy with meatless school meals

The Freiburg resolution for a standard vegetarian menu at day-care centers and elementary schools has sparked a controversy about proper child nutrition. The Stuttgart Ministry of Agriculture clearly distanced itself and said on request that meat is also part of a balanced diet. The ministry led by department head Peter Hauk (CDU) therefore does not support an exclusively vegetarian diet as a requirement.

The Freiburg municipal council decided on Tuesday evening with a green-left majority to only serve vegetarian food in municipal daycare centers and primary schools from the coming school year. In addition, the prices for school meals will be gradually increased from the 2023/24 school year.

The nutrition expert Gertrud Winkler welcomed the course of the southern Baden city. "With regard to sustainability, a forward-looking decision was made," said the professor from the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University of the German Press Agency on Wednesday.

Some heavy criticism

"From a scientific point of view, there is nothing wrong with only offering vegetarian dishes in day-care centers and elementary schools for a healthy diet," said Winkler. "In this age group - assuming a varied diet - you can cover the nutritional requirements with vegetarian food."

The Freiburg initiative had received some harsh criticism, including from parents' councils. It was mainly about the price increase for lunch. The proposal was accepted by the municipal council with 27 votes in favor and 14 votes against. The city primarily argued for reasons of cost.

So far there have been two types of food in Freiburg, with meat and fish also being served. In the longer term, it is possible to apply the regulation with the standard menu to secondary schools. The proportion of organic products in school and daycare catering is to rise to 30 percent - so far it has been 20 percent.

SPD: Day care centers and elementary schools should decide freely

"In their development, children should have the opportunity to develop their own tastes and try them out. This also includes the consumption of meat," said the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Agriculture. Reduced quantities are quite appropriate. The ministry is not aware of any other city or municipality in the country that offers completely meat-free food in daycare centers and schools.

University teacher Winkler said to the ministry's objection: "I assume that the majority of children get meat and sausages at home." Thus the Ministry's argument is satisfied. Winkler is Dean of Studies in Sigmaringen for the areas of food, nutrition and hygiene.

Day care centers and elementary schools should be able to freely decide what is on their plate, demanded the opposition SPD in the Stuttgart state parliament. In order to relieve low-income families and single parents, lunch at schools and daycare centers must be free of charge, demanded the education expert for the parliamentary group, Daniel Born.

Freiburg pursues an ambitious sustainability policy and, from its own point of view, has received worldwide attention and recognition. In the canteens of the city administration, things are already "meat-sensitive" and regional. The municipality is led by Lord Mayor Martin Horn (independent).

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