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School meals more varied, tastier, better: a competition for the best school cooks and canteens was carried out in Russia

Organizing school meals is a quest. Just try to feed a kid in such a way as to comply with sanitary regulations and standards, do not go beyond a limited budget, with maximum benefit for a growing body and a minimum amount of food leftovers in a student's plate.

How do they solve this quest in Russia?

For the past two years, special attention has been paid here to high-quality healthy nutrition for children. The impetus for the active development of this socially significant issue in 2020 was the instruction of Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide free hot school meals to all primary school students without exception.

Since then, events have been regularly organized in the country in support of the presidential order, as well as promoting the very idea of ​​​​healthy eating among both children and their parents. Thematic weeks, actions, competitions are carried out in various formats and at different levels: from a rural school to events of an all-Russian scale.

One of the highlights of this year was the third All-Russian competition "The Best School Canteen - 2022", initiated by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. School chefs and nutritionists from across the country took part in professional competitions to identify best practices for delivering quality hot school meals that children really enjoy.

Traditionally, the competition brings together specialists who are responsible for healthy school meals: experts, cooks, technologists, school staff and, of course, parents involved in controlling school meals. Together they are looking for effective solutions to create an optimal system for organizing school meals, maintaining health and improving the life quality of the younger generation.

As Tatyana Butskaya, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children, said: “It is not enough to fill the plate with healthy food, it is very important that the children eat what we put on this plate. That's what our competition is about."

Stages of the competition

The competition consisted of two rounds: regional and federal. The first was at the regional level. They held it on their own, then applied for a federal tour.

The federal tour, in turn, consisted of three stages: semi-final, final and super final. The teams of cooks and food specialists who made it to the semi-finals, representing their school cafeteria, met in Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, to compete for the final. The best of the best went to the superfinal in Moscow.

Final competition

On November 21, the grand opening of the federal stage of the III All-Russian competition "The Best School Canteen - 2022" took place at the Toratau Congress Hall in Ufa.

After selection at the regional level, about 400 participants from 75 regions of the country entered the federal tour.

“How can we ensure that school meals improve the health of our children and contribute to their intellectual development? How can we ensure that school meals lead to the fact that the future of our country is in reliable strong hands? Today we have gathered to exchange experiences, explore and implement new technologies and best practices. But that doesn't preclude fighting. Today the best chefs have gathered here. Today you will be presented with the best school canteens,” said Valentina Ivanova, Deputy Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the competition, head of the Federal Center for Monitoring Student Nutrition of the Ministry of Education of Russia.

The final of the competition was represented by two intense days of activities. On the first day, school chefs competed in the individual professional competition "Culinary Battle", the rest of the team members presented their school menu at the thematic exhibition "School Meals 3.0", and answered questions from parents in a quiz. On the second day, the teams completed the tasks of the quest workshop "Safe food unit". Based on the points scored in each of these challenges, the top teams advanced to the super final.

In the meantime, experts, nutritionists and parents took part in a scientific-practical conference and in culinary master classes from famous chefs, which took place at the same venue as part of the competition.

The competitive commission corresponded to its scale. A jury team for each test: experts, professional jury, parents, schoolchildren.

School meals of the future

Along with the traditional selection of teams for the federal tour, the organizers invited the participants to prepare their homework - the thematic table "School meals 3.0". The dishes put up for the school menu competition were supposed to put an end to the debate about healthy school meals, which, at the same time, can be no less tasty and attractive. The completed homework was evaluated by the children themselves, for the sake of which the competition was started.

Quiz from parents

Partnering with parents to participate in and oversee school meals is a new challenge for schools and meal organizers. All children are different and have different tastes. But their parents are concerned about the same questions: how school meals are organized for their children, how safe and of high quality they are. All these questions were asked by a special jury represented by parents to the teams in the Three Questions from Parents quiz.

The best cook

As part of an individual professional competition, chefs from school canteens and catering plants prepared dishes from the school menu. Their work was evaluated by professionals in the restaurant business. The tests took place on the basis of colleges, but everyone could watch the work of chefs on the screen of the site in the congress hall, where the process was broadcast live. The task revealed the winners of the nomination "Best Chef of the School Canteen - 2022".

Safe food unit

The final competition was the quest workshop "Safe food unit". For a limited period of time in each of the four sections of a particular food unit, catering professionals had to determine all deviations from the SanPiN standards. In each workshop there was a representative of the jury, who wrote down the violations noted by the contestants. The test was conducted on the basis of schools and colleges.

Cooking master classes

Healthy eating at home is a guarantee that children, when they come to school, are happy to eat meals prepared according to all quality and safety standards. If a child is used to eating chips and french fries at home, he will never eat healthy soup at school. Here it is not so much a matter of his taste preferences, but of eating habits. That is why it is so important to pay attention to what children eat at home and to instill healthy eating habits in them from childhood.

One of the master classes that took place within the framework of the competition was the master class “We prepare school breakfast ourselves” from the chief chef of the Industry Union for the Development of Social Nutrition Grigory Mosin.

Under the guidance of a chef, ninth-graders from Ufa learned how to cook healthy syrniki, and they were supported in this by First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee Tatyana Butskaya and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Territory of Happiness Charitable Foundation Karine Khabirova.

“The way we start the morning is the way the whole day goes. We want you to be active and successful, but this is not possible without proper nutrition. Let's start our day with the right breakfast," Karine emphasized.

Best Practices for School Meals

In parallel with the tests for cooks, the All-Russian scientific and practical conference "School canteen as an ecosystem of healthy nutrition for students" was carried out in the same congress hall. The conference has become a platform for the exchange of the best practices of the regions in the field of hot school meals, improving the school menu, digitalizing the school meal control system, and developing proper eating behavior in children and adolescents. One of the key topics of the conference was the participation of parents in organizing hot meals for schoolchildren.

The conference was attended by deputies of the State Duma and members of the Federation Council of Russia, heads of the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation, the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare, representatives of regional executive authorities, academic institutions of the Russian Academy of Sciences, associations of school catering operators and the business community of the nutrition industry.

The experience of Bashkiria in school meals

Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Bashkortostan Aibulat Khazhin shared their experience of interaction with parents and children on healthy eating in the Republic. Healthy Thursdays are regularly held here, telling parents how to build meals in the family. Schools hold a single republican open day “Parents of Bashkortostan for Healthy Eating” every month, where parents of schoolchildren can visit an exhibition of dishes, taste them, get acquainted with regulatory documentation, thereby joining the culture of healthy eating.

They also hold interzonal seminars with representatives of the parent community, the “One Day with the Chef” campaign, when high school students meet with famous chefs of the Republic. Drawing contests, healthy eating weeks. All events are attended by nutritionists, medical workers, and public opinion leaders. It has become a good tradition to hold the Republican flash mob “My National Dish”, where parents and their children cook their favorite dishes.

Vigorous activity in involving the public in the organization of healthy nutrition for children at home and at school has led to the fact that in the Republic about 97% of children are covered by hot meals in schools. The indicator is impressive.

Who won the competition?

The winners in the nominations "Best canteen of a city school - 2022", "Best canteen of a rural school - 2022", "Best canteen of a million-plus city-2022" following the results of the superfinal were honored in Moscow in the large concert hall of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation.

Sergey Gazizov from Moscow and Tatyana Ekimova from Bashkortostan became the best cooks of the school canteen.

Nomination winners:

"The best cafeteria in the city school"
1st place - Bobrovsky educational center "Leader" named after A.V. Gordeeva (Voronezh region), Lyceum No. 161 in Ufa (Republic of Bashkortostan);

2nd place - correctional school "Nadezhda" in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin region), school No. 6 in Velikiye Luki (Pskov region);

3rd place - school number 10 in Saransk (Republic of Mordovia); Gymnasium No. 2 named after M. Vakhitov, Naberezhnye Chelny (Republic of Tatarstan).

Laureates of the competition: Tolmachevskaya school named after I.I. Prokhorov (Leningrad region), school No. 691 (St. Petersburg), school No. 48 (Sevastopol), Engineering School of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, school No. 1 (Anadyr).

"The best canteen of a rural school"
1st place - the school of the village of Novo-Guryevskaya (Kaliningrad region), the secondary school of the village of Sadovoe named after Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov (Chechen Republic);

2nd place - school number 5 named after V.I. Danilchenko village of Staroderevyankovskaya (Krasnodar Territory), Seltsovskaya school No. 7 (Leningrad region);
3rd place - school No. 1 of the village of Iglino (Republic of Bashkortostan), Zaostrovskaya secondary school (Arkhangelsk region).

The winners of the competition: school No. 2 in the village of Buzdyak (Republic of Bashkortostan), Zavyalovskaya boarding school (Altai Territory), school in the village of Khabez named after R.R. Arashukov (Karachay-Cherkess Republic), Kentinskaya school (Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)).

"The best canteen of a school in a million-plus city"
1st place - school No. 1554 (Moscow city), school No. 24 of Nizhny Novgorod (Nizhny Novgorod region);

2nd place - School No. 75 in Volgograd (Volgograd Region), Lyceum No. 159 in Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan);

3rd place - Educational Center No. 2 of Chelyabinsk (Chelyabinsk Region), School No. 25 named after. V.G. Feofanov Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk region).

Laureate of the competition: gymnasium No. 11 of Samara (Samara region).

The main thing we want to note is that there are no losers in this competition. And the real winners are the children, for whom the competition was organized. After all, they are the ones who benefit from the results. In their schools, one way or another, they will think about improving nutrition, cooks will try to cook even tastier in compliance with all norms and rules, parents will take care of their nutrition at home, specialists, government officials, the expert community will continue to work for the benefit of the development of the school meals system and invest strength and means in this noble cause - the upbringing of a healthy, prosperous generation.

The competition has become an excellent example of how we can join forces to improve the organization of school meals and involve all parties in the process, organizing their effective interaction. We are confident that this competition will serve as an inspiration for other countries to carry out more similar projects, working to improve and develop sustainable school feeding systems.