Warm school lunches for all Dutch schools: nutrition scientist Frans Kok thinks that it is a good idea, but that the realisation will be a real challenge.
Dutch schools need to introduce warm school lunches, says Alexander Rinnooy, member of parliament on behalf of D66. He said this last Friday during a symposium about the ‘taste lessons’ in Wageningen. The plan needs to make sure that more children than the current 1 percent (!) eat the required amount of vegetables. ‘It is quite a good idea’, says Frans Kok, professor human nutrition at Wageningen University. ‘Now you see that many children are given a really bad lunch or no lunch at all.’
You say ‘quite’. What are your concerns?
‘The only problem is, how are you going to realize it? Aside from the financial side I foresee a huge logistic challenge to arrange warm meals for hundreds of children per school. Moreover, you want a healthy warm lunch. Personally, I would first set up experiments for several schools.’
Does such a second warm meal not cause children to eat too many calories?
‘That is a potential pitfall. But in Germany and Belgium it is perfectly normal to have a second warm meal and there you don’t see people overeating.
‘Moreover, I also wonder if it really needs to be a complete meal, you could also choose for a salad, with nuts or legumes. So more to supplement the bread. If necessary you choose for an even easier option, in the morning and afternoon a vegetable or fruit snack. This can also be social moment where you teach children to take the time to enjoy the meal.’
You refer to our neighbouring countries. Does this plan fit the Dutch culture?
‘That is a good question. I do not know the exact historical development, but also in the Netherlands it used to be normal to eat a warm meal during lunch. In 30-40 years this slowly shifted to a warm evening meal. I think that change is possible. It is also not in our culture to absolutely not eat a warm lunch.’