Under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, as part of the initiative of the wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, an online meeting on reforming the school nutrition system took place.
The discussion gathered together Minister of Education Serhii Shkarlet, Deputy Minister of Health - Chief State Sanitary Doctor Viktor Liashko and other representatives of the Government, representatives of the Presidential Office, heads of regional state administrations (RSA), experts.
The Prime Minister stressed the need to join forces to overcome the problems and challenges with the school nutrition system that currently exist in educational institutions.
"It is important to demonstrate to parents that the state cares about children and their nutrition. The health of the child should come first, especially when it comes to buying food or cooking," said Denys Shmyhal.
According to the Head of Government, there are three main areas of a joint plan to reform the school nutrition system: updating the outdated legal framework, improving control over food safety and quality, and providing resources to schools.
"Affordable, healthy and balanced nutrition in schools should be provided for every child: both in a large city and in a small village. It is unacceptable when someone continues to save on children's health and turn a blind eye to glaring problems and violations," Denys Shmyhal stressed.
According to the Prime Minister, the state is currently facing the most important moment in the implementation of the planned measures - the introduction of updated norms and regulations and the modernization of the material and technical base of school canteens.
"Let me speak frankly. I am concerned about the introduction of new norms on the ground - in the regions. This year we have focused on the updating of regulatory framework and devoted a lot of time to quality issues. Next year I would like to see the implementation of these solutions," said First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska.
Denys Shmyhal added that the COVID-19 pandemic could not be an excuse for officials to carelessly carry out their tasks and delay the achievement of goals. In this case, personnel decisions, he said, will be made quickly.
Chief State Sanitary Doctor Viktor Liashko reminded that in September this year the Ministry of Health had approved new sanitary regulations for general secondary educational institutions, the work on which had lasted for almost three years. The document enters into force on January 1, 2021.
"The regulations prescribe standards for the content of salt, sugar, fat in dishes that are prepared in schools or that will be sold. For the first time in Ukraine, a list of food products that are prohibited from being sold in school cafeterias and vending machines, such as snacks, chips, crackers, and popcorn, has been approved. It will also be forbidden to sell meat and fish products of industrial production," Viktor Liashko said.
The Deputy Minister of Health added that the sanitary regulations stipulate that cereals, vegetables, fruits, berries and dairy products should be included in the daily school diet of students. In addition, for the first time in the regulations of the Ministry of Health there have been settled the issue of organization of nutrition in educational institutions for children with special dietary needs.
On the outcomes the meeting, the Prime Minister instructed the regional and Kyiv city state administrations to take measures to draw the state budget funds by December 24, 2020, and direct to repairing and purchasing equipment for canteens (catering facilities) of general secondary educational institutions. In addition, the heads of regions should strengthen control over the organization of children's nutrition in compliance with the requirements of sanitary and hygienic rules and norms of maintenance of educational institutions.
Apart from that, the Prime Minister commissioned the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection, together with regional and Kyiv city state administrations, to continue training staff in educational institutions on the requirements of food safety legislation.