In the future, there will be a uniform menu in Freiburg day-care centers and elementary schools that is vegetarian. In addition, school meals are becoming more expensive. Not everyone likes that in southern Baden.
Freiburg – From the coming school year, children in municipal daycare centers and elementary schools in Freiburg will only be given vegetarian food. This was decided by the majority of the municipal council of the southern Baden city on Tuesday evening. In addition, the prices for school meals will be gradually increased from the 2023/24 school year. The proposal had received some heavy criticism, including from parents’ councils. It was approved with 27 votes in favour, 14 against.
So far there have been two types of food, with meat and fish also being served. The city is restricting the choice of warm lunches, mainly for cost reasons. In the longer term, it is possible to apply the regulation with the standard menu to secondary schools. The proportion of organic products in school and daycare catering is to rise to 30 percent – so far it has been 20 percent.
Advance has exemplary character
The Freiburg initiative is exemplary in the southwest: the Stuttgart Ministry of Agriculture and Food said on request that it was not aware of any other city or municipality that offered completely meat-free food in daycare centers and schools. More than 500,000 lunches are served in the canteens of Freiburg schools every year.
“The students are told what they have to eat,” criticized Gerlinde Schrempp from the Free Voters (3 seats) during the debate in the municipal council. City councilor Franco Orlando from the parliamentary group of the FDP and BFF (citizens for Freiburg; 4 out of 48 seats) had previously stated that the city leaders under the non-party mayor Martin Horn were “meat consumption a thorn in their side”. Green-Red has a majority in the municipal council.
Education mayor Christine Buchheit (Greens) defended the proposal: “We want to keep the cost increases under control,” she said. Good meat is a price driver.
There shouldn’t be any new costs for parents
The Baden-Württemberg State Parents’ Advisory Council also raised clear objections. Parents would already have to pay for the children’s transport to school, said the chairman Michael Mittelstaedt of the German Press Agency. There shouldn’t be any new costs for parents. “What justification is there for vegetarian food to cost more than meat-based food? Organic seal? Ridiculous,” said Mittelstaedt. It is a task for society as a whole to change eating habits. “So subsidies would be more than appropriate here.”
The Vice-Chairman of the Freiburg Parents’ Council, Sebastian Kölsch, criticized that the parents’ contribution for a school lunch, currently €3.90, should rise to €4.80 by September the year after next. “According to our research, Freiburg is already at the top with its prices for large cities in the southwest,” he told the German Press Agency.
No more choices for the kids
Kölsch also complained that there should no longer be any choice for the children in the future. The entire parents’ council could imagine cutting out the meat – for example with two vegetarian dishes. “Choosing between vegetable lasagna and steamed dumplings is also a choice,” he said. An optional meat side dish for the vegetarian dish is also conceivable, for example once a week.
In Karlsruhe, another major city in Baden, there are no comparable plans. The offer of a second menu is important in order to respond to the personal preferences of those eating and thus increase acceptance,” said a spokeswoman for the city. dpa