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School meals in Poland


delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
5 Jun 2020 #1
Inspired by discussions elsewhere on the forum, I thought I'd start a new thread to discuss school meals in Poland.

We're currently discussing this menu -

- IMO, it's very poor. It's somewhat standard for schools, but there are several things there that simply don't make any sense. Unfortunately, they don't provide any nutritional information on the website, but the heavy amount of red meat and likely heavy use of salt is particularly concerning.

I'm looking at other schools, and it's remarkable as to how little fresh fruit and vegetables are provided to kids in Poland, despite the country being an agricultural powerhouse.


  • School menu Poland
Miloslaw 6 | 3,027
5 Jun 2020 #2
@delphiandomine

That menu looks pretty good to me.
Certainly better than the stuff we were fed when I was at school!
Atch 17 | 3,234
5 Jun 2020 #3
I'm moving part of the text of my post from the Coronavirus thread to here ;-)

Re the menu posted by Delph:

seems pretty good to me and almost for sure cooked fresh...

Four days out of the five have red meat as the main course. Not good. All of the soups will contain added salt. Not good. Pickled veggies are served on two days, also high in salt. Not good. Fresh fruit only served on two days and fruit yogurt is very high in sugar. A small carton of fruit yogurt can contain as much as six teaspoons of sugar! Also not good. And why do the kids need a sugary drink with their meal, why not sparkling water with fresh fruit juice added?

How about chicken, turkey and a vegetarian day 'Meatless Monday'? With fish on another day, that would make only one serving of red meat per week and provides a good model for kids. What about salads made with a variety of fresh veggies instead of salty pickles? Cut the cakes and biccies, kids generally enjoy fruit salad especially in hot weather. Make sure there's no salt added to the soups and Bob's your uncle ;-)
mafketis 23 | 8,544
5 Jun 2020 #4
It should be remembered that part of the idea of institutional cooking in Poland is to make up for shortfalls at home. A large number of people ate at least one meal in a workplace cafeteria and bary mleczne were partly aimed at those in small workplaces.

This means the institutional memory of school lunch rooms is about making sure students get things they might not be getting at home. It's understandable that the emphasis is not on keeping up with fashionable ideas in more prosperous countries but making the food filling for those that might not be getting as much at home.

Of course the food culture outside of schools has changed a lot, not always for the better. Up until the late 1990s or early 2000s there was no snacking culture in Poland, people at three or four meals a day and usually nothing inbetween (which is probably a lot healthier than topping up with potato chips or candy bars).

'Meatless Monday'

Again, people had enough of meatless meals in the PRL... meatless Fridays make sense but fish (except for herring) has never been all that popular.
OP delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
5 Jun 2020 #5
Completely agreed with everything that you've said there, Atch. What's concerning is that on at least three days, they're also using sauces with the main courses, probably to disguise the very poor quality meat used. It's a common trick with school catering services.

It would be interesting to know just how much salt and sugar is added here.

Lenka - I checked, it's provided by a catering company. That means that it's probably sitting around for several hours before being delivered, often in large plastic or polystyrene containers.

One other thing that I can't figure out in Poland - why is the lunch break hurried so much, especially for younger children?
mafketis 23 | 8,544
5 Jun 2020 #6
I checked, it's provided by a catering company

Well see? That's your problem right there! That type of outsourcing is a plague that ends up being more expensive in the long run than running a kitchen with local oversight would be...
kaprys 3 | 2,416
5 Jun 2020 #7
How does the menu compare to such menus in the UK and Ireland then?
I believe there was a time when they wanted to introduce strict rules when it comes to healthy eating at schools and it all failed.

Generally, Poles are getting bigger. And you see a lot of that in kids and young people. There are definitely more obese people here than 10 years ago or so.
mafketis 23 | 8,544
5 Jun 2020 #8
It's the snacks, I tell you! Large meals full of fatty food with clear breaks between them are far healthier than constantly reaching for little snacks while counting calories.
kaprys 3 | 2,416
5 Jun 2020 #9
@mafketis
It's always the snacks.
I remember watching a documentary about obesity once and they blamed the snacks and I agree.
The question was why in the past obesity wasn't the problem even though people often ate three large meals, high in fat.
So the snacks, different lifestyles (walking less etc ) and sugar added to everything were to blame.
Zlatko
5 Jun 2020 #10
^they worked physically challenging jobs and children played far more outside. Been sissyfied by all those sedentary outsorcing jobs.
Ziemowit 13 | 4,038
5 Jun 2020 #11
It's understandable that the emphasis is not on keeping up with fashionable ideas

I totally agree with this. First, in the so-called "rotten West" they invented snacks, doughnuts, coca-cola and all sorts of junk-food unknown in Poland for a long time and now they complain of a three-course dinner/lunch served to kids in Poland. They count the intake of calories and yet completely forget that kids play around quite a lot and exercise (except for those who sit at the computer all the time) much more than adults.

As for salt, I was once served mushed potatoes (or whatever they were called ) as part of the main course in a hospital canteen in England and I just couldn't swallow a single bite of it. I had to put the stuff aside telling them I was not hungry even if I was as hungry as a wolf at that moment.
jon357 63 | 15,068
5 Jun 2020 #12
strict rules when it comes to healthy eating at schools and it all failed.

It's generally worked. They're strict about it. The problem is poor education about nutrition on the part of the parents who feed kids pretty awful foods. Slowly but steadily, this is changing.

There are definitely more obese people here than 10 years ago or so.

This is very noticeable. A high carb, high sugar/salt diet is mostly to blame.
OP delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
5 Jun 2020 #13
That type of outsourcing is a plague

I think so too. I've read a lot about the topic in Poland, and there's a recurring theme where outsourced catering results in a race to the bottom in terms of food quality. It seems that where schools have retained their own kitchens (or where the local council have got their act together), the quality is a lot higher and for the same price. I spoke to one school director about it a couple of years ago, and she said that they were given a simple choice by Sanepid - either update the kitchen facilities, or stop cooking on site. They obviously didn't have the money to bring the kitchen up to standard, so that was that.

How does the menu compare to such menus in the UK and Ireland then?

Good question - I chose a random example from a random very average (i.e. not wealthy) town - Doncaster. They have a centralised catering service that supplies public schools, and the cost of the school dinner is about 2.50 pounds - or roughly 12.50zł.

From what I can see, they have a system where kids can choose sides, desserts and salad as they wish to go with the main courses.



Atch 17 | 3,234
5 Jun 2020 #14
the emphasis is not on keeping up with fashionable ideas in more prosperous countries

It's not about fashionable ideas Maf, it's about education. School is not just about 'book learning' and for kids from poorer homes, it's even more important that school gives them a broad education although actually even children from prosperous families often eat quite unhealthily too for other reasons. Kids in Polish schools are taught about the food pyramid (not sure about primary schools but certainly in secondary schools) but schools need to practise what they're preaching.

How does the menu compare to such menus in the UK and Ireland then?

There are no school dinners in Ireland. Children bring their own packed lunches and they have to fit the school's 'healthy eating' policy. In schools with a designated 'disadvantaged' status, lunches are provided. I spent years teaching such schools so I can tell you the menu for primary school. Such schools also often have a breakfast club to ensure that kids get brekkie because so many parents can't get themselves together to give the child even a bowl of cornflakes. I've posted a menu below.

in Poland - why is the lunch break hurried so much, especially for younger children?

Again Delph, it's a lack of understanding of the broadness of education. School is as much about developing social skills and life skills as it is about academics. Meals and eating, table manners, holding a conversation, passing the dishes around, tidying up after, these are all important parts of a child's general education and increasingly children are not getting that. Even in prosperous homes many kids rarely sit down to a meal with their whole family because of conflicting schedules, parents working long hours etc.

@ Kaprys, here's the menu from the company that provided lunches for the last school I taught in, in Dublin. They were actually really tasty and if there were any left over because a kid was absent, they were happily wolfed down by many a hungry teacher! At the beginning of each term the parents were asked to fill in their menu choice for each day for their child and then the kid could change their preferences next term if they wanted. Kids who were fed up of their choice during term used to swap with each other so it worked out fine.



mafketis 23 | 8,544
5 Jun 2020 #15
have to fit the school's 'healthy eating' policy

how miserable.... how can anyone have so little self-respect that they paw through other people's food deciding if they should be allowed to eat it.... yech....

'healthy eating' is largely about getting people to pay more for lower quality food... (see the relentless pushing of veganism in the media over the last couple of years, much higher costs for lower quality food).
Atch 17 | 3,234
5 Jun 2020 #16
Well, that's not really how it works :)) Having taught in schools with such a policy, it kind of pervades the school atmosphere. Parents appreciate that you're trying to do your best for their kids and are generally cooperative. They see to it that the lunches are compliant.

'healthy eating' is largely about getting people to pay more for lower quality food.

Nonsense. I understand healthy eating to be cutting down on salt and saturated fats because by doing so you avoid heart and blood pressure problems for longer and cut down on your chances of developing colon cancer from too much red meat and processed foods. Research shows Maf that early stage fatty liver for example can be reversed by cutting down on saturated fats.
jon357 63 | 15,068
5 Jun 2020 #17
Doncaster. They have a centralised catering service that supplies public schools,

Crikey! That's nicer than the school dinners I had in that town. The salad (a rare offering) were the only decent thing. The meat pie was always lamentable. At least it hasn't been privatised, which doubtless makes a difference. It's a town that has long had issues with poverty; the school meal is probably the main meal of the day for some kids there, so it deserves to be decent.
Atch 17 | 3,234
5 Jun 2020 #18
I chose a random example

To be honest it looks very heavy on the sugar, my God, the dessert menu! Much worse than the Polish one. I'm not sure why we're educating kids to expect dessert after meals. When I was a kid, we were allowed two 'plain' biccies with a cup of tea after dinner and at weekends 'sweet' biscuits, something like jammy dodgers or custard creams. We only had dessert and cake on Sundays. Now it wasn't set in stone, of course there was the odd surprise treat like coming home from school to find that our mother had baked an apple tart :)) or being allowed to buy an icecream on a week day in the summer holidays but we definitely ate far less sweet stuff than kids nowadays.

But it's a nice menu. The main courses balance the more unhealty stuff like pizza with the fresh veggies and chicken etc. I wonder what the 'crispy country bake' is?? :))
mafketis 23 | 8,544
5 Jun 2020 #19
I wonder what the 'crispy country bake' is?

Take one country (a small one like Brunei, or Costa Rica is preferable)

Set it on fire till it's nice and crispy,

Voila!

Serves several million.
Atch 17 | 3,234
5 Jun 2020 #20
Lol!!
Lenka 3 | 2,000
5 Jun 2020 #21
Im sorry if I don't address all the points but I don't have time and the conversation moved on so much.

, here's the menu from the company that provided lunches for the last school I taught in,

Sorry Atch but I would shoot myself in the head if that was how my school meals looked like.

There is also an interesting article about food in schools here:
kobieta.onet.pl/dziecko/starsze-dziecko/szkolne-stolowki-nie-musza-byc-nudne-i-zle-karmic-oto-przyklad/ycx3glz
It's about how one determined person can change things. Simple school supplier set to make the meals healthier and change many people mindset. She became food coordinator for number of schools now.

I think it's important to remember that not all of kids eat lunch at school. Back in my day most of us didn't. I don't know how it looks now though...

I think biggest problem in Poland is:
-water to drink? Really?
-how can you not add sugar or salt for the kid!!!
In the past crap food was simply too expensive. Sadly the more money people have the worse it gets. In the past people could afford to eat crap once a month let's say. Now they can do it every other day

To be fair GB is much worse generally. Crisps as genuine part of the lunch? This silly little sweet drinks?
mafketis 23 | 8,544
5 Jun 2020 #22
I would shoot myself in the head if that was how my school meals looked like

People in different countries have different tastes.... I don't know why that's so hard for some to understand....

In the past crap food was simply too expensive

Yes, now it's too cheap and many people eat the way a lot of westerners so.... cheap food full of chemicals, starch, salt and sugar and low on nutrition.

I remember (a number of years ago) for work I often was involved in entertaining foreign visitors... one of the most common things they said was that food in Poland tasted the way it used to in their countries (meaning natural rather than heavily processed ingredients). I don't think they say that anymore...
OP delphiandomine 85 | 18,254
5 Jun 2020 #23
I think biggest problem in Poland is:

You might have seen it, but one curse for me is the way that there's a ridiculous culture of adding sugar to things like tea. I had a monumental row a few years ago over this, and the idiot working in the kitchen at the time simply couldn't understand why it was wrong to do it. I got my way, but only after pointing out that nowhere had the parents consented to sugar being added in the first place. And then the idiot wanted to give the kids sugar so they could do it themselves!

The salt part is also totally unacceptable - there's so many other things you can use to flavour food, though IMO, much of the overuse of salt is to disguise poor quality ingredients more than anything else.

It's about how one determined person can change things.

I've seen this article before, and I think it's a great example of what can be done with some effort. It's not rocket science, and schools don't have to use expensive ingredients, but there needs to be will on the part of schools to actually do something.

Looking for some pictures now of school dinners to illustrate this thread...

If anyone has a GW subscription, there's a good article here - krakow.wyborcza.pl/krakow/7,44425,22807993,uczniowie-w-krakowskich-szkolach-jedza-tlusto-slono-i-szybko.html - it turned out that in Kraków a couple of years ago, they investigated dinners and found that they were full of salt and fat.









Miloslaw 6 | 3,027
5 Jun 2020 #24
I was once served mushed potatoes

We used to get those same potatoes in English school dinners and they were all watery and inedible....
AntV 2 | 175
5 Jun 2020 #25
And then the idiot wanted to give the kids sugar so they could do it themselves!

You ever think it might be because the idiot was traumatized by teachers when she was a kid and its her way of getting back at those bastard teachers?

What's more harrowing for a teacher than a room full of sugared up little brats? Sweet revenge is what she's thinking.
jon357 63 | 15,068
5 Jun 2020 #26
they were all watery and inedible....

You get the same here in bary mleczne.

Unless you mean Smash which is sold here now too.
Miloslaw 6 | 3,027
5 Jun 2020 #27
Unless you mean Smash which is sold here now too

I can't remember if "Smash" was even around back then, but the spuds were grey, watery and inedible...
jon357 63 | 15,068
5 Jun 2020 #28
Ours (in Doncaster) were actually ok; it's a rich area for farming. Except during the potato crisis in the mid 70s when school dinners were making chips from sweet potatoes.

Probably quite trendy nowadays, but then it was just weird.

@Atch mentioned sugary desserts. As I remember, they skimped on the sugar. If it was a sponge pudding it would be strangely unsweet with a barely visible smear of jam

I got big portions though (not always desirable) being the son of one of the dinnerladies....
Miloslaw 6 | 3,027
5 Jun 2020 #29
If it was a sponge pudding it would be strangely unsweet with a barely visible smear of jam

LOL!!
You must be about my age Jon....

I got big portions though (not always desirable) being the son of one of the dinnerladies....

Lucky you :-)
kaprys 3 | 2,416
6 Jun 2020 #30
All of the menus presented have something to complain about really. If we looked for some more online, we'd find some more to complain about and even if we found one with no salt and no sugar, someone may complain about why it's vegan/gluten free or why it's not etc.

I asked about schools in the UK as I remember watching a Jamie Oliver show about schools dinners and lots of things were ready made and fried if I remember well. I don't know if things have improved since then.

Moderation is the key.


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