A school meal in Dois Irmáos (3)

The school meal program in Dois Irmáos is an exceptionally good example for multiple reasons. First, there is a dialogue between rural extension, family farmers, the nutritionists and the municipality. This cannot be taken for granted and the absence of mutual understanding and trust is often a barrier in other places. The state is often not trusted by farmers, governments can change. Nutritionists may think too much in terms of nutrients and hygiene whereas family farmers are often not organised enough to meet the supply requirements.  Or the cooking staff might object. In class, the example was given of a land settlement women’s cooperative baking bread which was refused by a school because the breads were too big and the cooking staff objected against having to cut the bread (instead of individual bread rolls).

Secondly, the facilities were modern, clean and spacious with lots of different activities for children. The school meal is strictly speaking not served at school but at the after-school day care center. It is normal in Brasil that children only go to school half a day. Most children go home afterwards and eat at home. A school meal is for those who need it, this can be because there is food insecurity at home, or quite the opposite, because both parents are working. In the case of the center we visited, it was aimed at children from the latter category. One of the activities is cooking lessons.

Thirdly, the scale of Dois Irmáos is that of a small town which makes it easier to localise the school meal. Not only because there are not too many mouths to be fed but also because of the logistics and coordination of getting the supply at times and intervals needed. The city of Porto Alegre is only now starting to look at possibilities to localise the school food from surrounding family farmers. Quite a challenge with the amount of children in schools and the metropolitan landscape.