Here is Chef Ratatouille and the school canteens of Nice

With the "Lab-school" project, will Ricardo Larrivée be able to offer school canteens in Quebec something other than the "Chef Poutine" who reigns too often there today? What if the Nice experience could serve as an inspiration for him during this month of food?

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With the “Lab-school” project supported to the tune of five million, will Ricardo Larrivée be able to offer Quebec school canteens anything other than the “Chef Poutine” who reigns too often there today? What if the Nice experience could serve as an inspiration for him during this month of food?

Eating is an essential need of the body. "Let your food be your only medicine" said Hippocrates already in 400 BC. J.-C.

If we are made of what we eat, it seems that what we invest in school canteens and education in healthy eating, can be saved in health costs.

The Nice experience

In France, nurseries, the equivalent of our nurseries, accept babies from the age of 2 and a half months to 4 years. Children are accepted in kindergarten from the age of two. Nurseries, nursery and primary schools are the responsibility of the municipalities, that is to say the towns and villages.

In addition to being the guardian of buildings, furniture and computer equipment among others, the municipalities also manage so-called extracurricular moments, that is to say the day care service, study times and student canteens. and staff.

The city of Nice has approximately 350,000 inhabitants. There are 80 nursery schools and 110 primary schools. The city has entrusted the production of the 22,800 meals served every day in schools, those served to 1,400 nursery children and the 210 to a cook from the great tables of the Côte d'Azur, chef Sébastien Mahuet. 000 meals served in daycare services during school holidays. He is assisted in this titanic task by Bruno Gilet, head of catering, as well as 703 agents, 74 of whom work in the central kitchen and 17 in consumer service to constantly improve the service.

"The role of school catering is to provide children and staff working in nurseries and schools with a balanced and nutritious meal from which the notion of Education in taste cannot be dissociated (Nicexpression #63)" 

How it works?

The catering service for pichoui in the city of Nice, Chef Ratatouille's canteen, offers six different menus each week. Menus for nurseries, kindergartens, primary school children and school staff are available directly on the canteen website.

Almost 340 children with allergies or metabolic disorders receive special meals.

Registration for school meals is compulsory for the child to be accepted in the canteen. Parents must prove that they live in the city of Nice and, where applicable, provide proof of employment which allows them to benefit from a reduced rate.

Meals are not free. Almost 70% of families pay using a direct debit formula. Meals for kindergarten children are approximately 4.50$ for full price and 2.60$ for reduced price. Meals for primary school students are 5.00$ and 3.50$ respectively. The prices are subject to the approval of the municipal council and are effective from the start of classes each year.

Parents can cancel one or more meals directly on the school's website.

Meals are adapted to different clienteles. Thus for nurseries, there are three different meals offered each day depending on the age of the children: infants, babies and young children. In schools, there is one meal for kindergarten, one for elementary school students and one for adults. 

What are we eating?

For nurseries, each baby meal includes a dish (a protein) and its garnish (thick soup, and vegetable puree), a dessert (fruit puree) and a snack (fruit puree). Adults are served a menu similar to that of schoolchildren which consists of a starter (salad or soup), a main course (source of protein), a garnish (vegetables and a starch), a cheese, a dessert (often a fruit, sometimes a cookie or cake) and a substantial snack which is served in the afternoon.

There is a second choice of protein for students who are not eating meat or eating pork. Moreover, in the composition of the dish, it is indicated whether the meat is pork.

In addition to the food balance ensured by the presence of nutritionists in the team, the canteen of chef Ratatouille wishes to offer children a high quality service. This promotes products from short circuits, that is to say fruits and vegetables grown locally. 30% protein comes from fresh fish. The pizzas, soups, pasta, cookies and cakes are prepared in the central kitchen and organic products are preferred. A fully organic meal is served once a month while the bread is always organic. There are also themed meals according to the seasons or the activities.

In addition, nutrition workshops are offered to children. Perhaps Mr. Larrivée could draw inspiration from the Nice experience to offer school boards a centralized formula in order to offer our schoolchildren healthy, nutritious and tasty meals?


Finally, I remind you that a call for projects has been launched to schools in Quebec who wish to set up and support initiatives promoting local and healthy foods in schools. Schools can submit their project until March 31, 2018. For more information, participants can consult the webinar on the project From farm to school - Canada: a fertile land! and on the kit available on the Équiterre website.

And for those who would like to introduce their students to eating what is grown, you will find some advice for school gardens. in this article.

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About the Author

Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise LePage is a pedagogue and museologist who recently came out of premature retirement to be reborn as an educational designation. She has taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke in science education, in addition to working at the Canadian Heritage Information Network as a museology consultant. She also writes for our French friends at Ludomag. She also invites all interested to contact her so that she can talk about you, your students, your school and your particular experiences in digital and computer education.

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