in the Côte-d’Or, school canteens face the puzzle of inflation

As inflation gallops and prices continue to rise, school canteens may well be forced to increase the cost of meals at the start of the 2023 school year. Illustration in Saint-Julien, Côte-d’Or.

Starter, main course, dessert … There is nothing missing on the menu. In Saint-Julien in the Côte-d’Or, the school canteen is still spared.

At present, we do not see the big impact“, confirms Antoine Duguet, restaurant manager.”From time to time we may make changes to the menu, e.g. as far as meat is concerned. But our supplier adapts to find products that match in a similar way.

Every lunch time, this canteen welcomes 150 children. So far no shortage … and no price change either. These are actually guaranteed by agreements that still run for a year. But Price negotiations for the school year 2023 are underway and inflation is starting to become a problem. “For the future, we ask ourselves many questions“, admits Françoise Van Roy, deputy mayor in charge of the budget.

We are currently paying 50,000 euros for the school canteen. With the new market, we pay at least double.

Françoise Van Roy, Deputy Mayor of Saint-Julien in charge of the budget

In a municipality whose operating budget is around 700,000 euros, it seems inevitable that the increase will be partly passed on to the price of meals. “We will have to make choices“, Assesses the city council member, who makes sure that nothing is decided yet.

Still, if there is an increase, it should take into account the standard of living of families. CAF recommends that meal prices be calculated in relation to the family quotient. In addition, there is an “effort rate”, determined by the municipality, which would more or less allow the increase to be absorbed.

At the national level, an increase of 5 to 10% is expected. “Each community is free to either pay for this increase if it has the capacity, or to pass it on to the parents.“, clarifies Ludovic Rochette, president (Horizons) of the mayors of France in the Côte-d’Or. If some municipalities like Saint-Julien are still looking for a solution, others have in fact already made the choice to raise prices.

The communities are really scratching their heads that there is no increase.

Ludovic Rochette, President (Horizons) of the Mayors of France in the Côte-d’Or

We will definitely have median situations where the effort is shared“, he continues.”In the solutions there is pooling, there is proximity, favoring local producers … Afterwards, the question is how we can negotiate with our partners. We expect the state not to leave the local authorities alone to face a significant challenge.

In addition to the economic aspect, everyone agrees that children should benefit from a balanced diet. “We make sure the menus are“says Antoine Duguet.”A dietitian accompanies our service provider during their production.

The basis is that children eat well“, Ludovic Rochette abounds.”School catering is an important moment. It is our responsibility to find solutions so that the costs are reasonable and affordable for parents, with this concern for education in eating well.

This education to eat well is all the more important as 11.2% of French children under the age of six are overweight, according to Public Health France. 4.6% are even in a situation of obesity. A share which has practically doubled since the start of the health crisis.

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