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Slovenian Food Day promotes the healthy eating of locally produced food

Ljubljana, 16 November 2016 – This year, Slovenian Food Day, designated by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia in 2012, will be observed for the fifth year in a row on the third Friday of November, which this year falls on 18 November. The Traditional Slovenian Breakfast project is held on the same day (for the sixth year in a row), as children in kindergartens and schools are served a breakfast of locally produced food. On this occasion the State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Tanja Strniša, the Minister of Health, Milojka Kolar Celarc, the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Maja Makovec Brenčič, Minister of Culture Anton Peršak (hosting the Press conference) and the President of the Beekeepers' Association of Slovenia, Boštjan Noč convened at the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum to give a comprehensive presentation to the media on the purpose of Slovenian Food Day and the implementation of the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast project.

Director of the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, Tanja Roženbergar, presented in her opening address the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum and the material heritage linked to the Slovenian food tradition.


Minister of Culture, Anton Peršak, emphasized in his address the linkage between the Slovenian folk tradition and cultural heritage. He pinpointed the importance of literary works that subtly communicate a message to children and young people on the importance of healthy eating, and said that with a lot of other high-quality cultural content, including ethnological collections in museums throughout Slovenia, songs and cookery books, films, puppet shows and theatre productions, bread baking workshops, beehive panel painting, and the creation of wax products, we can also significantly contribute to development of a healthy lifestyle for children and young people, where, in addition to healthy eating, so-called 'spiritual food' – culture and art – is also very important for an individual’s comprehensive development. Minister Peršak also stressed that the Ministry of Culture, through its participation in the project, wishes to inform the experts from educational institutions, health care, agriculture and environment about the rich selection of high-quality cultural content provided by cultural institutions (including libraries and theatres) from all over Slovenia on the topic of the Slovenian Food Day and the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast projects and thus additionally enrich the experience of children and young people. 


In her address State Secretary, Tanja Strniša, first thanked the Ministry of Culture for joining the Slovenian Food Day and the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast projects, in this way adding a new cultural dimension to an activity where we can develop cultural relations. This is about ethical food management, also considering the fact that food is not yet accessible to all people in the world. When we carefully handle the food we cause less environmental costs related to waste and surplus food. State Secretary Tanja Strniša also pointed out that the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast project headed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food since 2011 was initially promoted through donor contributions from many non-governmental organisations who still participate in the project; in 2012 the Government of the Republic of Slovenia proclaimed it the Slovenian Food Day and in 2014 it grew into a general project, financially supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food; Slovenia thus allocates approximately EUR 110,000 per year for reimbursement of costs to the schools and kindergartens that organise the breakfast. State Secretary Strniša stressed that it is her wish that activities for  promotion of eating local food, short transport routes within the food chain, education of pupils on the importance of agriculture, protection of environment and bees and beekeeping, and connecting with local producers would not be carried out only for one day but would become a regular practice. Since the project has actually become pan-Slovenian, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food wishes and strives to expand it to other areas, tourism for example. If the idea of Slovenian Food Day and the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast transfers to our daily practice, our goal will be achieved. Therefore, Slovenia should highlight the potential of food as a tangible heritage and the specific value of local food, which is of very high quality. 


The Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Dr Maja Makovec Brenčič, pointed out at the press conference the important role the teachers have in raising awareness about healthy food, healthy habits and the responsible management of food. She said that the teaching staff and meal organisers in schools and kindergartens considerably contributed to the overall Slovenian recognisability of the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast project, which is no more merely a project but also part of education in Slovenia. "Slovenia has one of the best systems of organised school meals and is one of few countries that organises meals, in terms of a public service, in a way enabling practically any child in the school to receive not only a meal but also breakfast, lunch and an afternoon meal.  99% of children have a meal at school and 75% of children have lunch at school. On average, nearly 200,000 meals a day are prepared in Slovenian schools." She stressed that the Traditional Slovenian Breakfast project also has an important linking aspect, as it has linked several Slovenian ministries and improved connections between schools, local suppliers and producers, while also making the project’s scientific and environmental content and messages more accessible to children.


In her introduction, the Minister of Health, Milojka Kolar Celarc said that the Slovenian Food Day was held in many schools, kindergartens, hospitals, workplaces and food suppliers. Since eating habits are formed early in life, this year, the Ministry of Health is paying most attention to children. "By financing the innovative project 'Children Prepare Healthy Traditional Lunch for Children' we aim to use a positive influence on peers in accepting healthy local and traditional dishes, in particular vegetables, wholegrain dishes or porridges, which are a part of healthy diet and make up an important part of cultural heritage," said the Minister.  In 35 primary schools all over Slovenia, young chefs will break out the ladles in school kitchens and use locally grown ingredients to prepare healthy dishes for their peers. "We also believe that for this reason, too, children will eat healthy meals more eagerly. This will also help reduce the quantity of discarded food in the schools that are changing their menus to healthier ones. The project also indirectly addresses parents and brings a treasury of healthy, locally produced traditional dishes into homes," noted the Minister. The project follows the Resolution on the National Programme on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health 2015-2025 with which we strive to reduce obesity and chronic diseases. "It is a great pleasure for me to find out that Slovenia has stopped the rise or even reduced obesity in children. We acquainted the public with this encouraging message at the 1st national conference, where the national programme's slogan 'Enjoy Your Meal, Slovenia' was presented," added the Minister.   To achieve better awareness among citizens on the importance of regular physical activity and healthy eating, the Ministry of Health financed the establishment of the national portal  


The President of the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, Boštjan Noč, stressed that this year the Honey Breakfast is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Since the first Honey Breakfast, Slovenian beekeepers have given more than 10 tonnes of honey to Slovenian schools and kindergartens. He highlighted that 10 years ago, when Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association started the story of honey breakfast, nobody imagined how the project would develop. It is beekeepers’ best project. The number of beekeeping courses in schools increased from 60 to 170 and consumption of honey increased by almost 100 percent. According to Boštjan Noč, all partners in the project deserve credit for this.  As an interesting piece of news he mentioned this year's new addition, saying that at 10 o'clock on Friday, 18 November, the song 'Beekeeper' by Lojze Slak will be sung by more than 40,000 project participants at schools all over Slovenia. 


The Traditional Slovenian Breakfast project is carried out by the four relevant ministries responsible for agriculture, health, education, and culture, in cooperation with the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association (the initiator the project), the National Education Institute of the Republic of Slovenia, the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia, the Chamber of Agricultural and Food Enterprises of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Association of  Fruit Growers Societies, the National Institute of Public Health, the Cooperative Union of Slovenia, the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia, and Slovenian companies and institutions.  


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