Regional projects | Madeira | Healthy eating in schools buffets: Madeira’s success story

The Madeira Autonomous Region has created, in 2001, the Healthy School Buffets Network (RBES) which is currently implemented in the vast majority of 2nd and 3rd cycles (5th thru 9th grades) schools in this region, promoting and providing healthier choices.

Schools are strategic points for the promotion and adoption of healthy eating behaviors. This Nutrition Education projects aims, amongst others, to increase the consumption of healthy foods in school meals and to encourage exchange between RBES schools.

RBES was first launched as a pilot experience in one school in 2000/2001, and, in the following year, the network was created, with the goal of increasing the consumption of healthy foods by the students. This network started with six schools, and currently includes 22 out of the 33 schools in the Madeira region.

It is an innovative project with proven success. Currently, there is a bigger variety of healthy options in school meals, namely salads, soups and nuts. Last year, 65% of foods eaten in RBES schools were sandwiches, croissants, water, yogurts, milk, milkshakes, fruit and fruit juices. By making such foods available, some students will choose them.

The Regional Government has also approved a Regulation defining school buffets’ operating standards and the sale of food products. Rita Ornelas, Dietitian and one of the people in charge of RBES, believes that this Regulation will help schools not included in the RBES to follow along the same lines, promoting healthier options for students.