There are about 25,000 village schools in Russia where from 70 to 300 children are studying. Al of them, according to the decree of Vladimir Putin, receive hot meals. Wek.ru decided to make a visit to the canteen of a village school, which is as important as the big city ones.
An ordinary village school in the Irkutsk region. The headmaster accompanies us to the canteen, telling us that this year there are 157 students, of whom 70 are studying in the elementary school and they eat for free. There are seven home-schooled children whose parents receive monthly cash payments. In addition, 42 children from low-income families also get free meals at school. There is a separate group of children with disabilities. One student is in the younger age group, and sixteen in the older group. They also receive state-provided meals.
We are going into the dining room. There are three sinks for washing hands and three electric dryers at the entrance, as well as dispensers of liquid soap and disinfectants. The dining room is equipped with water heaters, so there is hot and cold water everywhere. The room looks cozy. There are curtains on the windows, and a menu for each group is in a well-visible location. There are 12 tables for 6 people: a total of 72 students can eat lunch at the same time. There are metal napkin holders and stands for spoons on the tables. An air recirculation unit for disinfection is installed.
The canteen’s workers set tables in three shifts. After the second lesson, 70 elementary school students have breakfast. In addition to the free breakfast they also receive free milk. After the third class students of 5-8th grades (53 children) come to the canteen, and after the fourth class high school students of 9-11th grades (27 boys and girls). All information on the provision of meals is posted on the school website.
Now, children receive only one meal, because they study in one shift and stay in school less than six hours. Last fall, until the sanitary regulations and standards changed, they were fed twice. A first or second course, accompanied by a salad, a hot drink, candy, gingerbread, and fruit are served for breakfast. The menu varies each day, but the cost and number of calories, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are calculated very accurately. When coming to the canteen, each class gets its own table, which is already set by the cafeteria staff.
We ask about today's menu: vegetable ragout with stewed beef, the Winter salad, tea, chocolate-covered marshmallow, a mandarin, and, of course, bread.
We go into the kitchen. The head of the canteen is proud to show us her kitchen facilities.
"The kitchen has been completely re-equipped in the last two years,” she says. “New washing basins with taps equipped with shower heads for different needs such as washing dishes, vegetables, fish and eggs. Each type of product is accompanied by metal cutting tables, and the flow is maintained. All cooking processes go in a circle. There are separate shelves for dishes and food. We have three refrigerators. We work with semi-finished products, so we pre-cook them.”
The kitchen is indeed equipped with everything one might need. Two industrial ovens with a warming drawer, a marmite for heating food, a large industrial electric griddle, an electric potato peeler, and an extraction hood. Separate tables are also equipped for cooking, bread cutting, serving, and dirty dishes.
In the conditions of the novel coronavirus infection all safety measures are strictly followed. Workers are provided with free masks and gloves, which are changed every two hours, and a disinfecting lamp is installed in the room.
There is one cook on staff. He is assisted by a kitchen worker. The storekeeper not only gives out food, but also develops menus, makes nutrition reports for each group of children, and draws up contracts for meals. The working day in the kitchen starts at 7a.m. and usually ends at 3 or 4 p.m. when everything is washed and food is received and put away for tomorrow. When asked how often food is brought in and how it is stored, the headmaster explains that suppliers bring in food almost daily, with only frozen fish, meat, and chicken brought in for a few days. The school has contracts for the supply of agricultural products with local producers. This means that all products have electronic veterinary certificates from the Mercury system.
Vladimir Chernigov, the President of the Institute of Branch Catering, believes that village school canteens should be top priority, especially in terms of equipping them with modern technological equipment. School chefs should be able to cook tasty, healthy and varied food, giving children the habit of eating proper food, rather than snacking on the go with chocolate bars or chips.