Tasteless and sad: how children are fed in schools and patients in hospitals

Weekly “Argumenty i Fakty” No. 36. It's just tough 07/09/2022

According to expert estimates, children do not eat up to 50% of the food in school canteens and explain this as follows: the food is tasteless, looks ugly, not the same as at home.

In the Industry Union development of social nutrition consider “inedibility” products are a problem for all social institutions in the country. There are almost 100 thousand of them, and over 25 million people study or receive treatment in them.

The issues of the quality of social nutrition were given special attention at the Supervisory Board of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) in December 2021. Then the President instructed to create conditions for attracting investments in the development of infrastructure that ensures the production of high quality food in all social institutions.

“The situation in our field changed in 2020, when, at the initiative of the president, all elementary school students began to be provided with hot meals at the expense of the federal budget, – explained the deputy director of the Industry Union for the Development of Social Nutrition Vadim Rodikov. – A year later, in all regions, the problem of the state of the material and technical base arose.

The survey, which the union conducted jointly with the ASI in all 85 regions of the country, showed that in most of them there are no modern high-tech food processing plants and production and logistics complexes capable of supplying quality products to schools, kindergartens, hospitals and other social institutions. And the existing ones do not have laboratories to ensure quality control and safety of products received from suppliers.

According to the Union, more than 200 billion rubles are needed to re-equip canteens, and this issue urgently needs to be addressed in a quarter of institutions. The task of maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment is urgent.

“On behalf of the president, we are formulating proposals for changing legislation to test new approaches to reforming the industry and attract investment in it. We analyze what mechanisms are already in use, what practices exist in the regions, what resources are used to modernize food processing plants, – said ASI General Director Svetlana Chupsheva.

According to her, long-term contracts, concession agreements, public-private partnership agreements and offset contracts (when an investor invests in production, and the authorities guarantee the purchase of its products within a certain period).

There are successful examples in several regions. For example, in Bashkiria, a standard for school meals was introduced, standard 3-year contracts were introduced, and a unified two-week menu was created, in the preparation of which parents participate through electronic services. As a result, the number of children eating in school canteens increased by 10%. And in Tatarstan, back in 2019, they signed a concession agreement for 10 years to provide food for patients in healthcare institutions.

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