Villach: Organic food in Kindergartens

Similar to everywhere else in the “One World”, our responsibility begins with the smallest of things – our children. And Villach has achieved a tremendous amount for them. Plans for for organic food in childcare and educational establishments were drawn up as early as 1996, with implementation starting three years later. Around 65 per cent of the food offered at the 13 kindergartens and seven day care centres is now organic. All facilities have their own kitchen, with fresh food prepared daily. And this for the same price as before. The cost per meal is 64 cents, a price that is affordable for all sections of the population.

With 213,000 meals prepared every year, each meal contributes to climate protection – particularly if you consider that one third of the burden on our environment and climate is associated with our nutrition. The switch has had numerous positive outcomes. Given that the children find the food tastier, the amount of waste could at the same time also be significantly reduced. Not to forget the good “work climate” and pride of the responsible parties. All those involved are highly committed to the successful project. Raised flowerbeds are currently being set up at all facilities to supply fresh herbs and vegetables from cultivation through to harvest.

When asked about the secret to their success, the answer is a very simple one: “It is the local chefs and staff, who work with joy and enthusiasm to bring food that is prepared fresh every day to the table.” The commitment of mayor Helmut Manzenreiter has helped make organic food and a healthy diet an important aspect for all those involved in childcare and educational establishments. Thechildren, parents and employees really appreciate this.

In other towns, the catering teams were given notice and the facilities are now supplied by one central kitchen. The cost per meal is around 46 cents, with savings made at the cost of quality. The direct consequence: if the quality of the food decreases, the amount of waste increases. This is one problem that the kindergartens in Villach do not have! One element contributing to the recipe for success in Villach is the involvement of a local network. The kindergartens are supplied by organic businesses. “Our suppliers include over 30 organic producers, who provide a wide range of products from apple juice to goat’s cheese,” explains organic pioneer, Rudi Löschenkohl. He also supplies the grain for Manfred Raudaschl’s bakery, which is in turn used by the latter to bake bread that has already achieved cult status in the region: “The sourcing of products from organic businesses has allowed me to halve the transport costs.”

The core focus of the local network is the Alpine-Adriatic organic market held at the heart of the versatile region that extends from Villach all the way to the Mediterranean. Over 20 organic farmers from Friuli, Slovenia, Styria and Carinthia offer up their artisanal agri-foodstuffs for sale. Karl Heinz Müller, who sells organic bread in Nadrag bakery, is one of them: “We are always delighted when the kindergarten children pay us a visit.”

One annual highlight in Villach is the intercultural street festival. More than one thousand people are treated to organic and fair trade cuisine by Climate Alliance and the world shop (Weltladen). Migrants prepare a menu for a better world and source the ingredients exclusively from organic farmsteads and fair trade. An organic and fair trade food culture is beneficial to climate protection, the maintenance of human rights, species-appropriate livestock farming and naturally also our health – allowing steps conducive to attainment of the MDGs to be taken. It is an alcohol-free festival.

City of Villach