The study from the Bertelsmann Foundation investigated the quality and cost of lunches at nurseries (Kitas) nationwide.
It showed that food was seldom taken into consideration when planning the Kitas' budget.
“We need mandatory quality standards nationwide for catering at Kitas. This requires a national law,” demanded Jörg Dräger, board member of the Bertelsmann Foundation. “Good nutrition is an important requirement for a child's development and education and this is where Kitas play a central role.”
The majority of German Kitas, which were investigated using standards from the German Nutrition Society (DGE), fared poorly. Only 12 percent gave children enough fruit, and only 19 percent frequently provide enough salad or raw vegetables.
Fish was also seldom on the menu, but meat was offered frequently by three quarters of Kitas.
The study discovered a large number of Kitas were not equipped with catering facilities, with many of the kitchens similar to kitchens in private homes.
Less than one in three Kitas had a dining room, meaning children frequently eat in the activity rooms and only every third Kita had staff specialized in cooking and preparing meals.
The report also showed that two out of three Kitas in Germany use food caterers to deliver the lunches every day, but only every tenth caterer specializes in the nutrition requirements of children.
Parents pay €2.40 on average for their child's lunch, but the quality of the lunches greatly depends on grants from local authorities, the report found. A healthy and balanced lunch that meets the requirements of the DGE would cost €4, the study concluded.
“Federal, state, local authorities, institutions and parents have to agree on the financing of a balanced midday meal, so that every child at Kita gets a healthy lunch,” said Dräger.
“Children are not little adults. You cannot take an adult's meal, divide it into small portions and give it to children,” he told broadcaster ARD on Monday. “At that age, children need special food to help them grow.”
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