Rämpstoit koolisööklates: kui vanemad kaasa löövad


« It had been several years since I participated in catering committees like many parents of students“, Explains Marie, a Parisian mother of two children aged 5 and 8 who attend school in the 18th arrondissement. ” I had the impression of being useful: we could make comments on past menus and in “the menu commission”, comment on future menus. For years, I was content with that, like many other parents in the borough. Until, for the umpteenth time, I spoke with another mother about our children coming out of school hungry. She was determined to find a way to concretely understand what the problem was and decided to act. Thanks to her, I opened my eyes.The two mothers are quickly joined by a small group of equally worried parents. Together, they form a collective and set themselves a challenge: photograph as often as possible the meal trays served each to understand why the children shun them. Almost every day, the parents publish the photos on a Facebook group “The children of 18 eat that”, accompanied by the title of the planned menu.


Junk food every lunchtime

«It was a first shock: there was a real gap between the title of the menu and what was on the children’s tray: the sliced ​​beef was disappearing, replaced by chicken nuggets, the green salad of the announced entry on the menu went through the hatch and under the name flan caramel actually hid an industrial dessert full of additives. What disgusted me the most? Dirty “vegetable matches”, bathed in a frozen sauce, which have been difficult to identify. »Remembers Marie. The parents’ group takes turns to analyze the technical sheets that the Caisse des Ecoles sometimes agrees to provide them: canned vegetables that travel from one end of Europe to the other, foods that contain additives and sugar everywhere: in tomato sauce, yogurts… ” even in the “chicken sleeves” »» Marie gets angry. The collective also visits the central kitchen, located far from the school, responsible for making 14 meals per day for children in the arrondissement, which also manages meals for those in the 000nd arrondissement of Paris. ” In this tiny place where employees work at breakneck speed, we understand that it was impossible to “cook”. Employees are content to assemble frozen foods in large bins, sprinkling them with sauce. Point. Where is the pleasure, where is the desire to do well? Marie is annoyed.


Where have the kitchens gone?

Journalist Sandra Franrenet looked into the problem. In her book *, she explains how the kitchens of the majority of French school canteens work: “ Unlike thirty years ago, where the canteens each had kitchens and cooks on site, today, around a third of communities are in “public service delegation”. That is to say, they delegate their meals to private providers. ” Among them, three giants of school catering – Sodexo (and its subsidiary Sogeres), Compass and Elior – which share 80% of a market estimated at 5 billion euros. Schools no longer have a kitchen: the dishes are prepared in central kitchens which often operate in cold connection. ” They are moreover more “places of assembly” than kitchens. Food is prepared 3 to 5 days in advance (meals on Monday are for example prepared on Thursday). They often arrive frozen and are mostly ultra-processed. »Explains Sandra Franrenet. Now, what is the problem with these foods? Anthony Fardet ** is a researcher in preventive and holistic nutrition at INRA Clermont-Ferrand. He explains : ” The problem with community meals prepared in this type of cuisine is the risk of having a lot of “ultra-processed” foods. That is to say foods which contain at least one additive and / or one ingredient of strictly industrial origin of the “cosmetic” type: which modifies the taste, color or texture of what we eat. Whether for aesthetic reasons or for ever lower cost. In fact, we come to camouflage or rather “make up” a product that no longer really tastes … to make you want to eat it.. "

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Risks of diabetes and “fatty liver”

More generally, the researcher observes that schoolchildren’s platters contain too much sugar: in the carrots as a starter, in the chicken so that it looks crisp or more colorful and in the compote for dessert … not to mention the sugars already consumed. by the child in the morning at breakfast. He resumed : ” These sugars are generally hidden sugars that create multiple spikes in insulin … and behind a drop in energy or cravings! However, the WHO recommends not to exceed 10% of sugars in daily calories (including added sugars, fruit juice and honey) to avoid the creation of subcutaneous fat which leads to overweight, the insulin resistance which degenerates diabetes or the risk of “fatty liver”, which can also degenerate into NASH (an inflammation of the liver). The other problem with this type of processed food is the additives. They have been used extensively for only about 30-40 years, without really knowing how they act in our body (for example on the digestive microflora), nor how they recombine with other molecules (called the “cocktail effect”). “). Anthony Fardet explains: “ Some additives are so small that they cross all barriers: they are nanoparticles about which little is known about their long-term health effects. It is even thought that there may be a link between certain additives and attention disorders in children. As a precautionary principle, we should therefore avoid them or consume very little… instead of playing sorcerer’s apprentice! '.


A national nutrition program not demanding enough

However, the canteen menus are supposed to respect the National Health Nutrition Program (PNNS), but Anthony Fardet does not find this plan demanding enough: ” Not all calories are created equal! Emphasis should be placed on the degree of processing of foods and ingredients. Children consume on average about 30% ultra-processed calories in a day: that’s too much. We must return to a diet that respects the rule of the three Vs: “Vegetal” (with less animal protein, including cheese), “True” (foods) and “Varied”. Our body, and the planet, will be much better off! “For their part, at first, the collective” Children of 18 “was not taken seriously by the town hall. Very upset, the parents wanted to encourage elected officials to change provider, the mandate of Sogeres coming to an end. Indeed, this subsidiary of the giant Sodexo, managed the public market since 2005, that is to say for three mandates. A petition has been launched, on change.org. Result: 7 signatures in 500 weeks. Yet that was not enough. At the start of the school year, the town hall resigned for five years with the company, much to the despair of the parents of the collective. Despite our requests, Sodexo did not wish to answer our questions. But here is what they replied at the end of June on the quality of their services by the “industrial food” commission of the National Assembly. Regarding the preparation conditions, the nutrition experts from Sodexo evoke several problems: the need for them to adapt to “central kitchens” (they are not the owners of the kitchens but the town halls) and “ accompanying children »Who do not always appreciate the dishes offered. Sodexo seeks to adapt to the market and claims to work with great chefs to change the quality of foods. She claims to have reformed her teams to “qthey learn how to make quiches and cream desserts again »Or work with its suppliers to, for example, remove hydrogenated fat from industrial pie bases or reduce food additives. A necessary step in view of the concerns of consumers.

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Plastic on the plates?

In Strasbourg, parents congratulate each other. From the start of the 2018 school year, some of the 11 meals served to children in the city will have been heated in … stainless steel, an inert material. The amendment to ban plastic in canteens had been retested at the end of May at the National Assembly, considered too expensive and too difficult to implement. However, some town halls did not wait for the state’s whistle to get rid of plastic in canteens, also urged by parents’ groups, such as the “Strasbourg Cantines Project” collective. Basically, Ludivine Quintallet, a young mother from Strasbourg, who fell from the clouds when she understood that her son’s “organic” meal was reheated… in plastic trays. However, even if the trays are approved in relation to so-called “food” standards, when it is heated, the plastic allows molecules from the tray to migrate towards the content, that is to say the meal. After a letter in the media, Ludivine Quintallet gets closer to other parents and sets up the collective “Projet cantines Strasbourg”. The collective is put in touch with ASEF, Association santé environnement France, a gathering of doctors specializing in environmental health. Experts confirm his fears: repeated exposure, even at very low doses, to certain chemical molecules from the plastic container, can be the cause of cancer, fertility disorders, precocious puberty or overweight. “Projet Cantine Strasbourg” then worked on the specifications for the canteens and the service provider, Elior, offered to switch to stainless steel… for the same price. In September 000, it was confirmed: the city of Strasbourg changed its storage and heating method to switch to all stainless steel. At the start 2017% of canteens planned for 50 and then 2019% in 100. Time to adapt the equipment, storage and training of teams who have to transport heavier dishes. A great victory for the parents’ collective, which has since joined forces with other groups in other French cities and created: “Cantines sans Plastique France”. Parents from Bordeaux, Meudon, Montpellier, Paris 2021th and Montrouge are getting organized so that children no longer eat in plastic trays, from nursery to high school. The collective’s next project? We can guess: succeed in banning plastic in French canteens for all young schoolchildren.




Parents take over the canteen

In Bibost, a village of 500 inhabitants in the West of Lyon, Jean-Christophe is involved in the voluntary management of the school canteen. His association ensures relations with the service provider and employs two people made available by the town hall. The inhabitants of the village take turns to serve voluntarily every day dishes to the twenty or so school children eating in the canteen. Also disappointed by the quality of the meals, served in plastic trays, parents are looking for an alternative. They find a caterer a few kilometers away ready to prepare the children’s meals: he gets his supplies from a local butcher, prepares his own pie crusts and desserts and buys everything he can locally. All for 80 cents more per day. When the parents present their project to other parents in the school, it is unanimously adopted. ” We had planned a week of testing “, Explains Jean-Christophe,” where children had to write down what they ate. They liked everything and so we signed. However, you have to see what he prepares: some days, these are butcher’s pieces that we are more used to, like the tongue of beef. Well the children eat anyway! “At the start of the next school year, management will be taken over by the town hall but the service provider remains the same.

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Ja mis siis?

We all dream of seeing our children eat quality organic foods and dishes that taste good. But how do you get what looks like a daydream as close to reality as possible? Some NGOs, such as Greenpeace France have launched petitions. One of them brings together signatories so that there is less meat in the canteen. Why ? In school canteens, between two and six times too much protein would be served compared to the recommendations of the National Food Safety Agency. The petition launched at the end of last year has now reached 132 signatures. And for those who want to take more concrete action? Sandra Franrenet gives clues to parents: “ Go eat at your children’s canteen! For the price of a meal, this will allow you to realize the quality of what is on offer. Also ask to visit the canteen: the layout of the premises (vegetables, marble for pastry, etc.) and the foods in the grocery store will help you see how and with what meals are made. Another avenue not to be overlooked: go to the catering committee of the canteen. If you cannot change the specifications or if you find that what was promised (organic meals, less fat, less sugar…) is not being respected, then bang your fist on the table! The municipal elections are in two years, it is an opportunity to go and say that we are not happy. There is a real leverage, this is the opportunity to take advantage of it. “. In Paris, Marie has decided that her children will no longer set foot in the canteen. His solution? Make arrangements with other parents to take turns taking the children on the meridian break. A choice that not everyone can make.


* The black book of school canteens, Leduc editions, released on September 4, 2018


** Author of “Stop Utratransformed Foods, Eat True” Thierry Souccar éditions


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