After the Freiburg municipal council decided on a purely meat-free offer at daycare centers and primary schools for the coming school year, there was criticism from many sides. The city’s education mayor defended the decision.
Freiburg – The outcry was great: When the city of Freiburg announced that it only wanted to offer vegetarian dishes in schools and daycare centers, many citizens could not understand it. Now the decision is made. The green-left municipal council decided on October 18 that from the coming school year there will only be purely vegetarian meals in municipal day-care centers and elementary schools. From now on, the children will no longer be able to choose between two dishes, but will only receive the vegetarian menu. The main reason: The city wants to keep the cost increases for meals under control. While there is renewed criticism of the decision, Freiburg’s education mayor Christine Buchheit (Greens) defends the initiative.
In addition to criticism from parents, the Freiburg municipal council also received opposition from the Ministry of Nutrition in Stuttgart for its decision. There people are of the opinion that meat is part of a balanced diet. “Children should have the opportunity to develop their own taste during their development,” is the attitude of the ministry. Reduced amounts of meat are certainly appropriate, but a complete waiver is not supported. “We are not aware of any other city or municipality in the country that offers completely meat-free food in daycare centers and schools.”
Education Mayor of Freiburg: The city wants to offer children a high-quality service
In a TV interview with welt.de , Christine Buchheit, the green mayor of Freiburg for education, responds to the criticism – but still stands behind the decision. “Children can eat anything they want to eat. They are only a small part of their everyday life at school. That means they can eat meat at home, they can eat meat at the weekend, they can eat meat on vacation.” She goes on to argue: “We don’t mind. That’s why we don’t see any contradiction there.” Although soon only one meal will be offered instead of two, the aim is to give the children a high-quality, balanced meal. Since a meal usually has several components, the choice is still guaranteed.
Buchheit also has an answer to the question of why day-care center and school meals should become more expensive despite not eating meat in the 2023/24 school year: “We are now preparing the call for tenders for the next school year. And we expect the costs will increase as the caterers can no longer offer the food at these prices. That’s why we have to increase the parents’ contribution appropriately so that we can bear this price increase together.” If organic meat had been offered instead, it would have been even more expensive, according to Buchheit. “That’s why we’ve turned the screw on these costs and hope that we can keep it cheaper and also deliver a good offer. The quality should be in the foreground.”
Controversy: School children have to give up meat, but the city administration does not
Meanwhile, the fact that kindergarten and school children are only served vegetarian food, while the city administration itself does not want to do without meat in its canteen, is causing controversy in the debate. Buchheit says: “We don’t want to change what’s on offer at secondary schools either.” Here you have to “distinguish between small and larger children”. The older school children already have the choice between the kebab shop and the school lunch. “They should of course keep this option. And so it is with all other adults, who of course have different needs and choices. We are meat-sensitive in the city administration, but we cannot give precise instructions to all employees.”