Szczecin vs. plant based schools
In December 2022, Jagoda Gmachowska, a social activist, animal and human rights activist and president of the Spring Without Barriers Association, submitted a citizen petition to the Szczecin authorities to take action to increase the availability and promotion of plant-based food options in kindergartens and schools. In its content and justification, she clearly pointed to the positive environmental, health, social aspects associated with the wide availability of plant-based meals in schools, and cited a study indicating the lack of availability of plant-based options in educational institutions.
In early January 2023, she received a response from the Deputy Mayor of Szczecin, Ms. Lidia Rogas. Unfortunately, from its content and general tone, it is clear that the Szczecin authorities are shifting full responsibility for nutrition to bodies acting on behalf of and for the benefit of educational institutions. Are schools and kindergartens fully responsible for shaping healthy eating habits, nutrition education and providing and shaping balanced meals, or does the City of Szczecin – as the governing body for a wide catalog of educational institutions – also have room to act?
Bartek Gawrecki, advocacy coordinator at the Green REV Institute: „Article 68 of the Education Law, which is invoked by the Szczecin authorities, must be read in conjunction with Article 10(1)(1) of the Education Law, according to which the authority in charge of a school or institution is responsible for its activities. The tasks of the authority in charge of a school or institution include, in particular, ensuring the conditions of operation of the school or institution, including safe and hygienic conditions of learning, upbringing and care. Care issues appear directly in the wording of the provisions relating to collective feeding in schools – in accordance with Article 106(1) of the Education Law, in order to ensure the proper implementation of care tasks, in particular to support the proper development of students, a school may organize a canteen. Therefore, since the authority in charge of the school (the City of Szczecin) is responsible for its activities, there is no obstacle to it also interfering in the organization of the canteen, including the food served or ordered for it. Neither Article 68 of the Education Law nor Article 106(3) of the Education Law stands in the way of this, as the Deputy Mayor of Szczecin claims in her response.”