A study conducted by Eroski Consumer between 1998 and 2011 has revealed that the quality of school menus has worsened in general terms, and that a third of these have dietary deficits, so they do not adequately cover the nutritional needs of children.
The research was carried out in 1998, 2004, 2008 and 2011 and the data obtained in each of these years were compared, in which the menus of around 200 schools located in different Spanish provinces were analyzed.
The school menu should provide children with 30 to 35 percent of their daily energy needs
The study has shown, among other things, that the most expensive menus are not necessarily the best. Thus, in the last analysis (2011), 49% of the menus analyzed in public schools achieved good or very good grades, while only 27% of the menus of private and subsidized schools achieved similar scores.
Another noteworthy fact that the authors of the study have observed is that the quality of the food offered to the children often depended on the people who were in charge of preparing it. When the menu is prepared by a catering company, or a mixed formula is used in which the food is elaborated by the catering but it is finished preparing in the dining room of the school, the result is more nutritious than when the food is cooked directly in the school, since in the latter case they have detected greater presence of precooked and sweet foods.
In Spain it is estimated that about two million children eat at school -which implies an average of 165 days per year-, so it is of vital importance that the school menu is established following the criteria of a balanced diet.
And, according to specialists, the school menu should not only provide children with between 30 and 35 percent of their daily energy needs, but also help them adopt correct eating habits to help them prevent diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Source: Eroski Consumer