As part of its comprehensive food nutrition program, the French Ministry of Agriculture releases an “Almanac of my cafeteria” which provides detailed information on making the school food experience nutritious and balanced, but also tasty and enjoyable.
These almanacs are part of France’s overall school food cafeteria policies to encourage a healthy relationship with and education about food from a young age. The idea is for school children to develop a positive behavior with their meals to encourage healthy outcomes down the road. The almanacs seek to help accomplish this by providing as many fun educational opportunities about the food being served as possible.
Each edition of the almanac, which is updated and released to school cafeterias nationwide on a monthly basis, contains different documents to help school cafeteria managers compose meals, included in the respect of healthy nutritional standards. Here’s what’s in each almanac:
- 1. 20 meal plans composed of seasonal products with detailed nutritional information.
- 2. 4 lively recipes with practical advice, information on seasonal products used, tips on avoiding food waste during preparation, and even occasional opportunities for students to learn about the food they’re eating.
- 3. 1 practical document providing details on nutritional balance, the development of taste in children, the supply of quality products, or how to better manage food leftovers.
- 4. One interview of a cook that shares their experience in a school cafeteria
- 5. Bonus materials on a variety of subjects
For each month, the almanac provides a day-by-day guide to meal plans that is composed of an appetizer, a main dish, a dairy product (usually a type of cheese), and a healthy dessert with seasonal products. An example, for June: tomatoes, zucchinis, green beans as well as apricots and peaches were part of the served dishes.
The meal guides and advice given by the monthly documents serve as tools to meet France’s goals in school’s cafeterias. Some of these include providing a diverse range of different types of foods, insuring the provision of a dairy product at each school meal, limiting meals that have too much fat or sugar, providing appropriately sized portions, and encouraging the use of seasonal food products whenever possible.