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Junk food in school canteens: when parents get involved

8 min


«Mom, it’s not a good canteen!» In France, parents organize themselves through collectives, associations or Facebook groups, to change practices in school canteens. The survey in plates … not always unsavory!

“It’s been several years since I participated in restoration commissions like many parents,” says Marie, a Parisian mother of two children aged 5 and 8 in the 18th arrondissement. “I felt like useful: we could comment on the past menus and in the “commission menu”, we decide on the menus to come.

For years, I’m satisfied with that, like many other parents of the district. for the umpteenth time, I discussed with another mother that our children were coming out of school hungry and she was determined to find a way to understand concretely what the problem was and decided to Thanks to her, I opened my eyes. “The two mothers of families are quickly joined by a small group of parents so worried.

All together, they set up a collective and set themselves a challenge: to photograph as often as possible the meal trays served each to understand why the children are sulking them. Every day or so, parents publish photos on a Facebook group “The children of 18 eat that”, accompanied by the title of the menu.

Junk food every day

“It was the first shock: there was a real discrepancy between the name of the menu and what was on the children’s platter: the sliced beef disappeared, replaced by chicken nuggets, the green salad of the announced entry to the menu went by the wayside and under the name caramel flan hid actually an industrial dessert stuffed with additives.

What disgusted me the most? Unclean “vegetable matches”, bathed in a frozen sauce, which was difficult to identify. Marie recalls. The parents’ group relays to analyze the fact sheets that the Caisse des Ecoles sometimes agrees to provide: canned vegetables that travel from one end of Europe to another, foods that contain additives and sugar everywhere: in the tomato sauce, the yogurt … “even in the” chicken sleeves ” gets annoyed, Marie.

The group also visits the central kitchen, located far from the school, responsible for the production of 14,000 meals a day for the children of the district, which also manages the meals of those in the 2nd district of Paris.

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“In this tiny place where employees are working at hellish rates, it was understood that it was impossible to” cook “. Employees simply assemble frozen food in large bins and sprinkle with sauce. Point. Where is the pleasure, where is the desire to do well? Marie is peeved.


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