Every fifth schoolchild suffers from digestive system diseases like stomach ulcer; every second child suffers from gastritis; the majority lack calcium and folacin (Mingazova, 2011). This is the real picture of strong educational system of Kazakhstan, as the children got bogged down in such troubles because of the poor quality of catering at schools. We talk big about the quality of education at schools, disregarding crucial issues with its integral part – catering, which might be improved taking a leaf out of Italian creative procurement policy book.
Most of the school canteens do not mind children not being overfond of the school cuisine, as they found more cost-effective solution – sideboards selling junk food and sweetmeat. They have longer expiry dates and do not have to be cooked everyday. Blaming innocent but hungry children, the school administration deny the fact that the food is not only unattractive, but also have no health benefits. Sadly, promoting the “lowest price” service as in the UK, the catering procurement in Kazakhstan is elected according to the “best value” system (Morgan & Sonnino, 2006, p.4). Holding the name “sustainable school meal service”, the system urges steady quality progression along with the competitiveness between the catering agencies, which are given plenipotentiary freedom after the allocation (Morgan & Sinnino, 2006, p. 1). Parents’ voice is neglected throughout the process, and the school administration is bribed with free meal provision. As a result, parents complain that they do not receive any information about the food their children eat at school and the personnel that provides it. There is also a big concern regarding the medical examination, which also remains unknown, of the catering staff (Mingazova, 2011).
The government of Kazakhstan, since the slight amendments on food procurement policy in 2007 did not bring remarkable reclamations, could take for a model the Italian policy (Mingazova, 2011). The advantage of this policy is that school meal, which is defined as the most important aspect in education, is controlled by various stakeholders: from Ministry of Education to Ministry of Agriculture (Morgan & Sinnino, 2006). The latter promotes the local goods utilization, which adds to the quality but decreases the cost. Parents take active part in designing the meal plan as well. Therefore, there is a high competitiveness between high-quality, not the cheapest, catering services.
It is highly improbable to involve all local ministries in controlling the school catering. Involving parents into this process would though embroider the quality of meal at schools. Teaching the new generation the traits of appropriate nourishment is mostly possible at schools. Therefore, abandoning the sideboards might also prevent children’s health problems.
Mingazova, A. (2006). Osoboe vnimanie shkolnomu pitaniu [Special emphasis on school catering]. Sezon, 2011.
Morgan, K., & Sonnino, R. (2006). Empowering consumers: the creative procurement of school meals in Italy and the UK. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 1-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2006.00552.x