Toulouse: the “blues” of students since fries have deserted the menus of school canteens

the essential
At a time when 35,000 primary school pupils in Toulouse are going back to school, what about fries, the children’s favorite dish in the canteen? A dish that has become a rare commodity on the menu since 2011 but which is resisting, despite environmental regulations.

“Dad, you don’t know what? We’re going to have fries in the canteen…” Margot, aged 10, a pupil from a school in Toulouse (Minimes district), shared her joy for a long time with her classmates for three days, she who had never eaten fries since the beginning of the school year.

Like her, 35,000 students from the 210 Toulouse schools (nursery and elementary) eat lunch in the canteen every day and, obviously, many dream of eating it more often. But it is a feat that the Central Kitchen of Toulouse, which delivers meals to schools daily, sometimes has difficulty in accomplishing.

“You have to heat them to 120°C”

Proof, if any, by the admission of Margot who, after swallowing her plate of fries, let her heart speak: “They weren’t very hot, but still it’s better than nothing”. Hot or not, fries are desired in school canteens, but the deputy mayor of Toulouse in charge of “Eating well” Jean-Jacques Bolzan ensures that they will remain on the menu.

“Fries are rare, because they have to be reheated in the canteen at 120 degrees, assures the elected official. It’s complicated to manage, we prefer to put hazelnut and fried potatoes on the menu. Clearly, the city of Toulouse is studying the issue closely by turning to organic. “We found an organic potato that adapts better when reheated. »

The time of scarcity

Except that the war in Ukraine and the announced shortage of vegetable sunflower oil, necessary for the fries which must be immersed in it at 190°C, have been invited. But the “battle” of fries is not new.

On November 1, 2011, a decree on the nutritional quality of meals served in the context of school catering, retirement homes and public companies was published in the Official Journal. It was signed by the then Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Regional Planning Bruno Le Maire.

Which explains in essence: “The lunches and dinners served in the context of school catering necessarily include a main dish, a side dish, a dairy product and, at your choice, a starter and/or a dessert. The variety of meals is assessed on the basis of the frequency of presentation of the dishes served during 20 successive meals”.

Environmental pressure

Finished the rab. The size of the portions “must be adapted to the type of dish and to each age group”, among other obligations on the grammage of the dishes. Result, the fries, like the rest, clink glasses in the primary. This is less obvious in the secondary where many colleges and high schools have their own kitchen. Over twenty successive meals, the fries are condemned to be served no more than four times (and reheated).

Something to worry students, like Margot, about the future of their “favorite dish”, not to mention “pasta and dessert”, but the regulations are very strict in this area. It is now inseparable from the recommendations, quite rightly, of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or even the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe), which urge the not to reduce the carbon impact of our plates.

In which, moreover, a double portion of fries could replace red meat to fight against food waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30%. Nothing is lost.

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