The main goal of the changes is to make food in Ukrainian schools healthy, tasty, and varied. In general, the reform provides for the "modernization" of the composition of the school menu, recipes for cooking, as well as the form of organization of meals for students.
In addition, the innovations in one way or another should have affected the recommendations for the equipment of food blocks and work with suppliers.
Healthy food instead of junk food
An important step towards reforming the school feeding system was the approval of the new sanitary regulations for educational institutions.
This document defines the diet of schoolchildren and establishes a list of products that are prohibited from selling in canteens and vending machines.
According to the new sanitary regulations, the diet in schools must be varied and must include grains, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, milk, dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes, and fats.
The document contains separate requirements for the preparation process for each of these products. For example, you can only use refined oil for frying potatoes, and sugar or any other sweeteners cannot be added to vegetables and fruits.
New requirements for food blocks
As part of the reform, hygienic requirements for food blocks in schools were also established and for the first time, a subvention was allocated for their modernization.
Thus, 18 million USD were allocated for the repair and purchase of equipment for catering units last year: 14 million came from the state budget and the rest – from local ones.
As Minister of Education and Science Serhiy Shkarlet said, as of early February, nearly 2,000 educational institutions have already created appropriate conditions for the organization of high-quality food.
The Ministry of Education reported that most often they bought equipment such as combi ovens, electric stoves, refrigerators, electric pans, bain-marie, vegetable cutters, electric meat grinders, and dishwashers.
Reform in 2020
First, the methodology for procurement in the field of catering in educational institutions was announced.
Secondly, it provides guidelines for the development, implementation, and use of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Point Control (HACPP) system.
Thirdly, new norms and procedures have been developed for organizing meals in educational institutions and children's institutions for recreation and recreation. Having analyzed this point in more detail, we note that in Ukraine for the first time at the legislative level the issue of nutrition for children with special dietary needs, including those with gluten and lactose intolerance, was regulated.
Schools must now provide separate meals for these pupils.
All that needs to be done is to provide an appropriate certificate from the family doctor or pediatrician, which will indicate the special dietary needs of the child with the establishment of an appropriate diagnosis. Individual meals should be organized taking into account the recommendations specified in the certificate.
New menu for school canteens
This is perhaps one of the most important components of school feeding reform.
Work on the new menu, according to Olena Zelenska, began in December last year. It involved specialists from the Ministry of Health, culinary expert Yevgen Klopotenko, representatives of public organizations, nutrition experts, and children's doctors, in particular endocrinologists and nutritionists.
Information about the results of teamwork is available here. According to Yevgen Klopotenko, the menu contains about a hundred new recipes for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.
The website of the project "New School Meals" notes that the new dishes are simple to prepare. The products are the same, but with a different approach, so the cost of school lunch will not increase with the introduction of this menu.
For example, a dish with the complicated name "Tabule" is a healthy salad with bulgur and chopped herbs. For dessert, children can be offered "Blanmange" - a cold jelly-like French dessert made from almond or cow's milk, and the developers of the new menu decided to replace the traditional uzvar with an equally healthy drink – lemonade.
Chief sanitary doctor of Ukraine Viktor Lyashko called the new menu healthy and balanced, stressing that it limits the daily amount of salt, sugar, flour, and confectionery products, and also excludes some types of products in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The new menu for school canteens has already passed the "testing phase," which was attended by First Lady Olena Zelenska. Now we are waiting for the presentation of the menu at the national level.