The “Sustainable Food in Public Schools” Triple-win case study aims to ensure that children aged 0-3 attending public nursery schools in Madrid, Spain are provided with healthier and more sustainable food. It is based on guidelines from the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, a commitment made by 181 cities across the world – including Madrid – to strive towards more sustainable food systems by guaranteeing healthy accessible food, reducing food waste, and protecting biodiversity. On 11 January 2019, Maria Romeo-Velilla of EuroHealthNet went to Madrid to find out more about the project and how it achieves the INHERIT “Triple-Win” of contributing to environmental sustainability, promoting better health, and reducing health inequalities.
Concretely speaking, “Sustainable Food in Public Schools” seeks to bring about change by implementing new menus for children attending one of Madrid’s 56 public nursery schools. It aims to help foster this change by organising workshops for key stakeholders and raising awareness amongst parents. The project benefits from a number of sources of funding, including INHERIT, as it is one of the 15 Triple-win case studies selected for in-depth analysis.
Accompanied by three representatives from the University of Alcalá (Sonia Quiroga, Pablo Martínez and Cristina Suárez) – responsible for evaluating the INHERIT case study – Maria’s visit began in one of the schools in which the project is implemented, Escuela Infantil Municipal Hiedra, located in a disadvantaged area of Madrid (San Blas). Warmly greeted by the head-teacher and staff, Maria was able to engage in in-depth conversations with them, and in particular with the kitchen personnel, who are at the very heart of the initiative. Speaking to the school’s head chef, Maria realised the importance of ensuring that those who are involved in the daily preparation of food for children are truly committed to the project. Although they are sometimes overlooked, they can in fact become the key champions of sustainable food, and help to bring about positive and lasting change. It was heartening to see that the teachers are also fully engaged, as this is crucial in helping to ensure that children’s parents understand the benefits of healthier and more sustainable eating habits for their children, as well as for the environment.