Food at school: the soup looks like noodles and the portions are too small?

“Kids don’t even order soup because it tastes like a washed container,” complained parents of some children who receive free meals at school. While some point the finger at the poor quality of the dishes and the very small portions, others just shake their heads.

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On the Facebook account of the Big Family Association, the discussion about free school meals is heated. This time, photos of dishes from Vilnius Tuskulėnai High School cafeteria became public.

“This is a three-day “ration” for children whose meals are paid for by the state. The children don’t even order soup, because it tastes like washed dishes, the parents complain. “The portion is placed on a small plate, so the young, even if you eat this ration, you will still be hungry.”

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According to the author of the post, the portion of the food may be sufficient for children entering kindergarten. And the drinks provided did not satisfy these parents – the children were offered only water or compote, which reminded of the Soviet era, because tea was not given to thirst for students who received free meals.

“That’s the question, are the children sold by the country or the people thrown away?” Have they prepared a special menu that you can’t eat?”, the parents asked.

Opinions differ

More and more parents from all over Lithuania expressed their opinions in the virtual space. Here is a mother of two children living in Šilute, seconded the author of the post: “The children do not eat at school, they say it is not tasty.”

A mother of three who lives in Jonava said the free food is not for the children, but she doesn’t like the food either. “For an older woman, even if she is not picky, two euros is not enough for a normal meal. She also likes to eat soup, but as she said, she doesn’t want to try it at school yet, because the soup looks unpleasant. The girl paid almost 1.8 euros for two sausages with wheat grain, but no salad,” wrote Tatiana.

The question arises, are children whose meals are paid by the state denied? Are they specially prepared like a non-food menu?

“That part is ridiculous and you have to pay a lot of money. The children join the group, so they eat twice, but they still go home hungry. We still have to carry food from home to school,” said Sigita’s mother.

“If kids get free food, why bother? The state – we’re all taxpayers – we pay a lot of money for food, so let’s poorbut they are right – children should have enough food so that they do not go hungry,” Oksana also wrote. The woman said that she does not know people who advise parents to be grateful and complain less about free lunches, even if the quality is not good .And there are some opinions in that post.

“They gave me free food and what’s worse? “Thank you” should be said,” Grigorius explained his position.

“My children eat without complaining, without spoiling, they are grateful for everything. The soup is really like a broth, maybe thicker, but the kids eat it too,” wrote Kamilė.

Mother Renata, who lives in Molėtai, said that her children eat soup, but sometimes they refuse to eat hot food. “Now that ‘healthy’ food has changed, sometimes the children say that there is nothing they can eat. It happened in the cafeteria that they serve beetroot meatballs with a mixture of beets and corn grits. They eat groats, but eating beetroot with beetroot is a reason. Or, pieces soba with wheat porridge and salad are served. If my children get a dish like the one in the picture, they will lick it and eat it. At least there is no meat here. And because of the uniformity of paid and free food, the free eater has no choice: just there is one dish, while those who pay for lunch out of their own pocket can choose from several dishes. At least that’s how it is in our school. The little kids study in another school, the food there is really good, so the little kids eat everything. In the school this is food like at home,” explained the woman.

No complaints

Portal diena.lt asked representatives of Vilnius city municipality to comment on the situation.

– Are children who receive free meals served different meals at school than parents who pay for meals?

– Children who receive free meals are served the same meals as their parents. The gymnasium menu is coordinated with the State Food and Veterinary Service.

– Has the school management recently received any complaints about very small portions of food or the quality/taste of the food?

– No, the school administration has not received any complaints.

– How much is a complete lunch set (soup, hot dish, drink)? Can a child whose parents pay for lunch eat multiple meals? What about kids who get free food?

– Lunch set, i.e. soup, hot dish, drink costs 2 euros. This price is valid for free and paid meals, if the parent has eaten lunch during the previous month. If children buy lunch individually at the checkout, then choose from the recommended menu.

– On the school’s website it is written that the gymnasium is provided by the individual company A. Cimbalist. Are there any complaints about the food provided by this company?

– From the beginning of September this year, the individual company Aleksandrs Cimbalistas, which won the public procurement tender, started providing catering services at Tuskulėnai high school. The catering company is investing in itself: replacing all the old catering equipment, renovating the kitchen. The high school administration had no complaints, but many positive responses from parents and students. During each lunch, a variety of salads are given to the students in separate containers for the children to add to.

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