Fight over school lunches

Parents, unions, local groups and educational entities plan demonstrations to stop the change in school cafeterias and could present a citizen’s law

The parents’ associations (AMPA) are not alone. They have been joined by unions, various educational entities, the Catalan Association of Leisure Acivities, the educational community association (MUCE) and neighbourhood associations. Different sensibilities, and even different management models, but with a common goal: to halt the decree by Catalonia’s Education Department which would bring an end to the schools’ cafeteria service as it exists at present. The decree was to become effective earlier but the department postponed the move during negotiations. It is planned to go into effect at Easter. The department says that no further changes will be made.

The conflict is based on the model which presently gives the AMPAs control over contracting catering services for the school lunches. The new system will hand those powers over to county or town councils or to the school management. The change has angered parents and others involved to the extent that they have formed a body, SOS School Dining Room Platform which is at present debating the possibility of taking the issue to parliament as a public legislative initiative (ILP).

The new system will see catering tendered for contract and AMPAs feel that this will leave the service in the hands of the four largest companies operating in the sector, shutting out alternatives.

The federated parent’s association president Belén Tascón says that the result will be that companies will apply “economic criteria,” which will take decisions on diet and quality control out of the hands of the parents. Tascón says their proposal is to take an even greater role in the process.

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