"Unser Schulbuffet (Our school cafeteria)" is a nationwide initiative carried out by the Austrian Ministry of Health in cooperation with AGES to improve break-time snack and lunch options at schools. The initiative is aimed at all cafeteria operators who wish to improve their range of products. They receive practical support from a mobile team of coaches in providing a healthy range of food and beverages in line with the "School cafeteria guidelines", as well as other accompanying measures.
In the years 2011-2014, cafeterias at over 300 locations throughout Austria were supported within the framework of the "Our school cafeteria" initiative. Over 250 locations fulfilled most of the recommendations listed in the "School cafeteria guideline", earning them an award from the mobile team. A healthy range of options was provided to over 200,000 pupils.
To guarantee the long-term availability of an "award-winning" range of products, the successful cafeteria operators had the option of undergoing a re-evaluation process and competing for the award for their school cafeteria again in a year's time. Almost 170 operators received the award for the second time in the years 2011-2014. There were also a few especially committed cafeteria operators who participated in the initiative from the very outset and won the award for the third time.
In the years 2012 and 2013, the "Our school cafeteria" initiative was subject to continuous evaluation by experts from the organisation AGES (Department of Integrative Risk Analysis, Data and Statistics). The goal of this evaluation was to reflect and - wherever necessary - improve the quality of the measures roll-out during the planning and implementation stages and to verify the success of the initiative. The evaluation results showed that the initiative was assessed positively by an overwhelming majority (93%) of cafeteria operators. They stated that the main factors for success were the professional support provided by the mobile coaches and the focus on the target group "cafeteria operators". Maintaining the economic viability of the cafeteria operations was another important element. The changeover of the product range to comply with the "School cafeteria guideline" led to a restructuring of turnover within the product range rather than a loss of turnover. The majority of cafeteria operators stated that a school cafeteria in line with the recommendations listed in the "School cafeteria guidelines" is economically viable in the long term.
Efforts to create a network of cafeteria operators in the form of annual conferences and regional get-togethers and to forge links with other partners within the schools were deemed successful.
The evaluation of the "Our school cafeteria" initiative showed that it is possible to improve the food and beverages on offer while maintaining economic viability and customer satisfaction.
The initiative continues...
Since mid-2014, mobile advisory services have continued to operate in some states in cooperation with regional partners. See the Ministry of Health website: "Unser Schulbuffet (Our school cafeteria)".