How Healthy is Food Served in Croatian Schools?

Total Croatia News

A look at the Croatian school diet. 

Luka Lazarević (8) is a gourmet who rarely misses a visit to the grocery shop with his mother Andrea where they choose the ingredients for their weekly menu. He equally likes to eat beets, couscous, soup or ham. However, while attending elementary school in Novi Zagreb he was not satisfied with the offer of the school kitchen, with undercooked food that was often replaced with uncooked meals such as sandwiches or pastries, says his mother. “In the new school in Pisarovina, he is much happier. Every day they have cooked meals, so school lunches are no longer one of the problems we have to think about”, says Andrea Lazarević, reports Jutarnji List on September 4, 2015.

The Lazarević family spends 120 kuna a month for the school lunches (the subsidized price of one meal is six kuna). “In discussions with a number of mothers of children attending other schools, I see that we are a rare positive example. Parents of many children are unhappy with school meals, which are based on dry and greasy food, from sandwiches and donuts to fries and hot dogs”, concludes Andrea.

Food offered in primary schools varies greatly not only in different towns, but also within towns as well. “Everything depends on whether the school has its own kitchen or whether it is bringing prepared food from the outside. A good cook is also a big advantage. A year ago we had a mutiny among parents due to bland food, but when the old cook retired and we replaced her with a new one, parents have completely changed their minds”, explains a source from one elementary school in Zagreb.

At the Kajzerica school they strive to offer students only healthy ingredients, taking into account the variety of traditional Croatian dishes. “Our cooks Štefica, Karolin and Silvija prepare most of the meals on their own. We try to eat less industrially prepared food”, says the school, which has decided to award the students with the opportunity to compile their own menu every Thursday. During the week, students put their proposals in the school mailbox, and then the cooks include their ideas into the menu.

Although the owners of primary schools – local governments – are legally required to provide meals for children in their schools, in reality there are huge differences. However, while the majority of the primary school students have food available in their schools, high school students have to fend for themselves, because the kitchens and dining rooms in these schools are a rarity.

Consequences of an unhealthy diet of children are quite obvious: the latest nutritional research conducted among Croatian schoolchildren showed that children of the same age are slightly higher and much more heavier in comparison to their peers from the first half of the 1980s. Boys at the age of 7 are 2.7 centimetres taller than their peers, while the girls are 2.5 centimetres taller.

In terms of body weight, the biggest differences can be seen for the 16-year-old boys who are heavier by as much as 8.7 kilograms, while girls at the age of 12 are heavier by 5.2 kilograms. Croatia has recorded a worrying disparity in the increase of body weight in relation to body height, with the increasing share of obese children.


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