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Italian Law Calls for All Organic Foods in Nation's Schools

>From <www.ifoam.org>

Ecology & Farming--Magazine of the International Federation of Organic
Agriculture Movements June 2004

ITALY IS AHEAD IN ORGANIC SCHOOL MEALS

Since year 2000 use of (some) organic food is compulsory in every-day meals
in Italian schools and hospitals. The law does not speak about food safety
or ecological issues, but is clear: ".in order to assure promotion to
organic and high quality production".

Every law has a loophole: town councils have to serve organics, but mayors
infringing the law will not be prosecuted, so only a minority of
municipalities serves regularly organic food and hospitals are exceptional
cases.

In spite of the low number of municipalities (around 500 out of 8,100,
including villages), more than a quarter of Italian children eat organic, as
the most part of large cities is law-abiding: only in Rome, every day
140,000 schoolboys have only organic food.

For many reasons school-meals are extremely important for the development of
organic farming. They are not only useful to promote an ecologically sound
culture among children and parents, but are a real blessing for farmers:
crop programming is easy (as you know in large advance the exact number of
meals) and quantities may be remarkable: a child eats a 100 grams apple, but
140,000 children eat 14 tons of apples a day, and 70 a week.
Besides the national law, six regions have promulgate their own acts (4 of
them granting aids to municipalities using at least 50 or 60% organic
products).

The late law was issued by Region Emilia Romagna in November 2002, strongly
wished for by the Green regional deputy Daniela Guerra and imposes a 100%
organic diet for nursery and primary schools (from 3 months to 10 years),
and at least 35% in advanced schools, universities and hospitals; other
products have to be traditional, typical or coming from certified IPM.
As current contracts will expire, school meals will be put out to the new
contract, and gradually, before 2005 in every school of the region all
350,000 children (and 35,000 teachers and attendants) will eat organic.
The organic movement worked side by side with the regional government.
Prober (www.prober.it <http://www.prober.it/> , the regional association of
organic growers, processing companies and handlers) carried out a study
about home-production and supplying capacity and promoted a concertation
table with the main caterers.

Consortium-bio (www.consortium-bio.it <http://www.consortium-bio.it/> , an
association whose members are 60 of the leading organic companies) offered
to municipalities a contract scheme with fit for organics specifications.
Consortium-bio again sent an informative kit to all the 8,103 Italian
mayors, distributed 1,650,000 post cards ready to be sent to town councils
("hurrah for organic meals at school") in co-operation with Esselunga (a
leading supermarket chain, with an organic private label range of about 450
products), 120,000 enclosed with a women's monthly and advertised in daily
newspapers and magazines, asking mayors to abide the law.

Italian national and regional laws about organic meals can be downloaded at
www.consortium-bio.it <http://www.consortium-bio.it/>

Roberto Pinton
Pinton Organic Consulting
r.pinton@greenplanet.net <mailto:r.pinton@greenplanet.net>