Pupils cooking together. Copyright by VS Dr. Adolf Schärf, Kapfenberg.

Successful Ecolabel Cooperation in Kapfenberg

The cafeteria of the FH Kapfenberg supplies the food for the students of the elementary school Dr. Adolf Schärf, where great importance is attached to a healthy and shared lunch.

At the "Dr. Adolf Schärf" Ecolabel elementary school in Kapfenberg, the students eat lunch together. Principal Martin Schwendenwein emphasizes: "For us, a joint, high-quality, healthy and warm lunch is an important indicator of a successful all-day school. It teaches the children table culture, hygiene, adequate behavior and responsible food handling." These efforts are perfectly supported and accompanied by the Austrian Ecolabel.

Learning & Eating. The "Dr. Adolf Schärf" elementary school in the city of Kapfenberg in Styria has held the Austrian Ecolabel licensee since 2016. The educational team is led by principal Martin Schwendenwein. At his school, people not only learn together - but also eat together. And that goes like this: Lunch for the students of the elementary school is cooked in the cafeteria FH Kapfenberg, which is an Ecolabel licensee for communal catering, and delivered in hot boxes. A successful cooperation between the two Ecolabel licensee organizations!

Experience community

Sitting together at the table. "There is a separate room where the students eat their lunch," says Director Schwendenwein. On school days, about 30 students meet there, eat and experience community - a very important factor for social learning. The children are supported by the pedagogical afternoon supervisors. In addition to the experience of "eating consciously," helping each other and showing consideration, the students are also taught values such as table culture, hygiene, appropriate behavior and the appreciation of food and drink.

joint eating at the table. Copyright by VS Dr. Adolf Schärf, Kapfenberg.

Portions - self-determined. How does the food get onto the pupils' plates? Can they determine the size of the portions themselves? "The children pick up their food with a tray at the food counter. They tell the counsellor how big they want their portion to be. We make sure that the children have less on their plates at first. After all, they can get more portions at any time," says Director Schwendenwein. This teaches the pupils how to handle food responsibly: since everyone only asks for as much as they can eat, there are no leftovers on the plates.

Without meat - it tastes good, too. Are vegetarian dishes also offered? How do the pupils react to that? Director Schwendenwein says: "Yes, there is a meatless dish every day. The children can choose their own menu the week before. There are pure 'meat tigers', but also more and more children who alternate between vegetarian and conventional menus. Two or three children eat only vegetarian." With the "meatless" lunch offers, the school fulfils an important requirement of the Austrian Ecolabel licensee. It is also important for Martin Schwendenwein to emphasise: "The menu selection also takes into account the needs of the Muslim pupils.

melon face. Copyright at VS Dr. Adolf Schärf, Kapfenberg.

What happens to leftover food? "Leftover food is taken away by the children for the afternoon. They can reheat them in a microwave if needed." Food waste could thus be significantly reduced at the primary school "Dr. Adolf Schärf".

Snack boxes for refilling

"Snack box" campaign. In addition to the well-organised and well thought-out lunch, there is also the "snack box" campaign at the primary school, which is supported by the environmental peers: The pupils bring their own reusable snack boxes to the local Fuchs bakery. This avoids the packaging of snacks and thus waste. "The acceptance of this action is very good. Two thirds of the pupils who buy a snack at the buffet have their box or a reusable plate from their class with them," says Director Schwendenwein happily.

Switch to ecological procurement for all

The support of the municipality. The municipality of Kapfenberg has converted the procurement of materials etc. for all seven schools in the city area in accordance with the Austrian Ecolabel licensee. What changes, experiences have this brought for the primary school? "The changeover of the cleaning materials was not unproblematic at first, because new training had to take place in some cases and 'established' employees struggled with the changeover. But in the meantime there are no more problems here!" And Martin Schwendenwein adds: "We have great support from the municipality. For example, the procurement of paper is handled centrally. That relieves us considerably. Because the responsible person at the Kapfenberg municipality is very committed to environmental protection and climate protection!"

A round thing. All in all, a round thing: the Ecolabel licensee companies cooperate. The pupils like it. And "by the way" they internalise the correct, i.e. mindful, handling of food. And they also become familiar with healthy, climate-friendly nutrition. Waste is avoided.

We can only wish the pupils and the educational team of the "Dr. Adolf Schärf" primary school in Kapfenberg "Mahlzeit!