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Schooling: Universities experiment with quick circuits in canteens for the “Au pré de l’assiette” operation.

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Improving the quality of food in the canteen is the objective of the district council, which is organizing the “Au pré de l’assiette” campaign in several colleges from November 14th to 18th, promoting short circuits and local producers.

Bringing taste back to the school canteen. A whole program. Food quality in schools is once again becoming a “sensitive” issue for local authorities – Toulouse Métropole, Haute-Garonne departmental council, Occitanie regional council – competing in initiatives to raise student awareness of “good food”. Especially since the possibility of using short circuits to local producers is within reach.

The “eat well” formula adopted by the city of Toulouse has also become the norm in the department, which is organizing the sixth edition of the “Au pré de l’assiette” operation from November 14th to 18th. Organized with the national association Agrilocal, this year eleven universities and eighteen school classes from Haut-Garonne are involved.

“We are moving towards autonomous kitchens”

The departmental council, which manages a hundred colleges in Haute-Garonne, wants to maintain its specificity when it comes to school catering: namely, a kitchen in each establishment. “We are moving towards an independent kitchen, not a central kitchen,” we confide to the commune’s communications department.

For a week, the chefs from the schools involved in the “Au pré de l’assiette” operation will be able to prepare delicious meals using products purchased on the Agrilocal online platform. It was set up by the department in 2016 “to facilitate contact between university gastronomy and local producers for direct sales”.

The Agrilocal 31 platform

In 2017 it was extended to all customers ordering public catering (municipalities, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.) and in 2019 to non-profit associations and foundations. “To date, Agrilocal31 has 67 buyers, 68 suppliers and generates more than 900 orders per year”, states the departmental council. Do middle schoolers find local produce to their liking?

“In any case, it makes you want to go to the canteen, especially when the dishes are made with regional products, specifies the municipality. When it’s good, it limits food waste. We also want to focus more on organic and make our plates greener.”

vegetation of the plates

In short, more vegetables. But don’t forget the meat. The spotlight this week will be on the local agricultural sector with Gascony beef and in particular seasonal food from local farms that will be on the menu.

Since 2020, the faculty council has adopted an action plan for higher education food quality that responds to three major challenges: “The food transition to change consumption habits, the green transition to reduce and recycle waste, and provide sustainable and responsible meals.” .

The municipality plans to “achieve 50% quality and sustainable products and 20% organic products from the total volume of grocery purchases” this year.

“Each year, the department’s 100 public colleges serve 6.5 million meals. The quality of school meals is a crucial issue for the health and well-being of middle school students, but also for raising students’ awareness of healthy eating and waste sorting. For this reason, 90% of the universities in the Haut-Garonne are equipped with autonomous kitchens,” affirms Georges Méric, President of the Departmental Council.

“Eating well” for students under the auspices of the Occitania Region

The Occitania Regional Council, which manages the region’s high schools, is launching a “good food” experiment for students who are known to struggle to eat properly on a daily basis. The experiment will be carried out at two university sites, in Toulouse at the Toulouse 1 Capitole University and in Mende (48) this autumn, “before its deployment in 2023”, assures the region. Specifically, events are organized around a food truck on campus, where students learn, under the guidance of qualified trainers, how to prepare simple and inexpensive recipes based on regional products. In all, more than 80 student chefs will leave with their culinary creations, which will also be distributed in the form of meals to 200 of their fellow students enrolled at the university.

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