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ICLEI Europe calls on European Commission to ensure healthy meals are available in all schools


09 Mar 2023


Agriculture & Food


On the occasion of International School Meals Day, ICLEI Europe reaffirms the importance of providing healthy and sustainably sourced school meals to all children.

9 March 2023, Brussels, Belgium - On the occasion of International School Meals Day, ICLEI Europe urges the European Commission to produce a framework supporting local and regional governments in the sustainable procurement of food. Alongside over 280 civil society and trade organisations, ICLEI Europe signed a letter appealing to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to submit a comprehensive proposal for the upcoming EU Sustainable Food Systems Law, which will play a pivotal role in ensuring healthy meals are available in schools and other public canteens. 

Through its involvement in the Buy Better Food Campaign and SchoolFood4Change, ICLEI Europe underscores local and regional governments’ role in providing meals and food education for children in schools and daycares, in addition to highlighting the importance of food procurement as a catalyst for the sustainable transformation of the food system. A recent petition from the Buy Better Food Campaign advocating healthy school meals for all children has garnered over 10,000 signatures.

Last year, the Buy Better Food Campaign launched the Sustainable Food Procurement Manifesto, which outlines minimum standards for public canteens across the EU as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy. The Manifesto shares seven criteria for the sustainable procurement of food: healthy food; organic and other agro-ecological products; support for small-scale; climate action; social economy and labour rights; fair trade; and animal welfare standards. Current endorsements of the manifesto include the Food Council of Valencia (Spain), the Veneto Region (Italy) and the city of Brasov (Romania), among civil society organisations such as Eurogroup for Animals, European Public Health Alliance, Slow Food Europe and more. 

Every year, European organisations and institutions use International School Meals Day to raise awareness about the importance of providing healthy, sustainably produced meals to all children. The ongoing cost of living crisis reinforces the need for access to affordable, healthy food as does the fact that one in three children in Europe is obese or overweight. The current revision of the EU school scheme, which supports food education and the distribution of fruit, vegetables and milk to school children, also constitutes another opportunity for the Commission to advance the provision of healthy, sustainable food and food education, in line with the 2021 Council Recommendation on the EU Child Guarantee


When it comes to healthy eating behaviours and knowledge of nutrition, schools have the power to influence systemic and multi-actor change. As those responsible for administering school cafeterias, local and regional governments require adequate support and guidelines to ensure that healthy, sustainably sourced school meals are available to all children.


Sign the Buy Better Food petition to help ensure that every child in every school receives a healthy meal and food education here.


Local and regional governments are invited to endorse the Sustainable Food Procurement Manifesto advocating minimum standards in public canteens here


Learn more about ICLEI Europe’s work to bring about a sustainable food system transformation, here



About Buy Better Food


Buy Better Food is a Europe-wide coalition of more than 100 members, calling for public procurement rules that work for the environment, consumers, and workers, and that provide healthy food to all European citizens in public places such as schools, hospitals and elderly care homes. The BBF vision is to ensure Europe's food system is healthy for both people and the planet, based on the sustainable and fair production of food on healthy land, by 2030.


About SchoolFood4Change 


The four-year EU-funded project sets out to redefine what it means to eat healthily and sustainably at school, while also addressing food education at several levels. SchoolFood4Change (SF4C) sees schools as catalysts for systemic and multi-actor change, including but not limited to school curricula. It involves training cooks, caterers and public procurers at city level and aims to create a true ripple effect, impacting up to two million citizens in 12 participating EU countries. SF4C is currently developing a report proposing innovative criteria and approaches for the procurement of sustainable and healthy school meals. The report will be unveiled this month.


About ICLEI Europe

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 125 countries, we influence sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development. ICLEI Europe provides members in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia with a voice on European and international stages, a platform to connect with peers, and tools to drive positive environmental, economic and social change. ICLEI Europe works closely with an extended network of local and regional governments and partners on a broad range of topics. 


Press contact:

Valeria Eirin

Senior Officer, Media & Outreach

ICLEI Europe


Tel: +49 761 368920






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