Eating mindfully

Learn what Phorms Campus Frankfurt City and Phorms Campus München do to improve the students’ diet and foster nutritional awareness among them
Illustration: Friederike Schlenz | Photo: Phorms Education SE | 2019/2

Phorms Campus München

Author: Jasmin Priesnitz

Eating is an important part of the daily programme at Phorms. The students need healthy, varied food options to keep them going through the long school day. The food is cooked fresh on site every day at the Phorms Campus München. This is taken care of by the Michelin star holder and former chef of the German national football team Holger Stromberg and his five-strong team. This catering crew has been providing healthy food for over 770 children and adults since 2010. Stromberg believes society has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to nutritional knowledge. He advocates starting to teach children about nutrition while they are still at school, ideally in the form of a dedicated subject: dietetics.

  1. Eat natural: No additives are added to the food.
  2. Be aware of your fluid intake: Water can also be absorbed via food.
  3. Be good to your gut: This involves consuming complex, high-quality carbohydrates.

When it comes to choosing food for school meals, cost is obviously always a factor, too. Nevertheless, Stromberg favours high-quality foods without additives and, where possible, foods that are organic, regionally produced and have a low carbon footprint. The catering team plans the menu eight weeks in advance for organisational reasons – but Wednesday’s menu always remains a surprise. On Wednesdays, head chef Oliver Heinrichmeier can take advantage of current offers, such as on organic meat. Meat is usually only served once a week at the Phorms Campus München, but it’s always high quality. ‘As an alternative, we have introduced one day a week where we serve a meal containing organic, Demeter-certified grains,’ explains Heinrichmeier.

Producing as little food waste as possible is also a top priority for the catering team. When they began, they analysed the general waste to discover which foods people ate and which were left. The findings are continually factored in when planning the menus and calculating quantities. As a result, Stromberg’s team has been able to reduce food waste by around 50 per cent.

The catering team also accommodates dietary requirements when preparing meals, and provides vegetarian, vegan, lactose-, gluten-, and nut-free alternatives. The friendly server Dani knows every child – not necessarily by name, but she can match each face to their preferences and intolerances. It’s not always easy to make everyone happy when there are so many children, parents, and teachers from different cultural backgrounds. Some degree of compromise is inevitable. ‘At the end of the day, it’s about what people want to eat, not what we want to serve,’ says Stromberg. For example, Monday is pasta day. Everyone knows kids love pasta – yet another good reason why the children can look forward to going back to school on Mondays.

And how has the menu affected everyday school life? ‘Since introducing our menu nine years ago, the teachers have informed us that the students concentrate better and perform better in class,’ says Stromberg. And how have the children responded? ‘The children like eating here and enjoy the food,’ concludes Heinrichmeier. ‘We can see that when we’re serving. But the most important thing to note is how little food is thrown away. There’s no better proof than that.’

Phorms Schule Frankfurt

Author: Sheena Aperocho (head of year at Phorms Campus Frankfurt City)

Children need to be taught the basics of nutrition in a way that is geared specifically towards them. At the beginning of November, year 1 students from the Phorms School Frankfurt City participated in healthy eating workshops held by FPS Catering. These workshops followed on from the healthy breakfast workshops previously held by Phorms and FPS, and brought together what the children had learnt in their Sachkunde (general science) and Humanities classes. In Sachkunde, students explored the topic of healthy nutrition, which is part of the Hessian curriculum. They learnt the correct names of foods and how to identify where they belong in the food pyramid. They also learnt which nutrients are crucial for their development. In Humanities, which is delivered using the Cambridge Global Perspectives programme, students learnt about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. This included learning about hygiene, exercise, social and emotional wellbeing, and healthy eating.

The students discovered many new and often surprising facts, with the aim being for them to take charge of their own nutrition. FPS Catering started the workshops by building a food pyramid with the children. Several of them were shocked to learn that sugary foods and drinks should only be consumed in moderation. Prior to making the food pyramid, one student had stated that people should eat sweets at least twice a day.

The students then visited different stations, each of which had a sensory activity that appealed to a different sense. At the ‘touch’ station, students put their hands into a box and had to guess what food was inside. At the ‘sight’ station, students looked at different vegetables and learnt their names. Then the students ate bread and drank fruit tea at the ‘taste’ station. Finally, the ‘smell’ station had cups filled with coffee, mint leaves, cinnamon and lemon. When asked which station was their favourite, an overwhelming majority of students chose the ‘taste’ station, with the ‘smell’ station coming in second place. To finish things off, the students applied their newly learnt skills and drew their idea of a healthy breakfast on their chef’s hats.

Overall, the workshops were well-received by the students and teachers at the Phorms School Frankfurt City. As the head of year, I was pleased with the outcome of the workshops. It was a fun and interactive way for the students to learn about healthy eating, and it was also a nice collaborative effort from the German and English teams. We will definitely be doing this again next year.

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Recipes by Phorms mothers | Photos: private