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… Nothing is missing from the menu. In Saint-Julien, in Côte-d’Or, shortages still spare the school canteen.
“At present, we do not see a huge impact“, confirms Antoine Duguet, restaurant manager. “From time to time, we can have modifications in the menu, in terms of meats for example. But our supplier adapts to find products that correspond in an equivalent way.“
Every lunchtime, this canteen welcomes 150 children. For now, no shortage… and no price change either. These are indeed guaranteed by agreements which still run for one year. But price negotiations for the 2023 school year are underway, and inflation is starting to be a problem. “For the future, we ask ourselves a lot of questions“, admits Françoise Van Roy, deputy mayor in charge of the budget.
Currently, we pay 50,000 euros for the school canteen. With the new market, we will 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, partly passing on the increase to the price of meals seems inevitable. “We will have to make choices“, judges the city councilor, who ensures that nothing is decided yet.
Still, if there is an increase, it should take into account the standard of living of families. The CAF recommends that meal prices be calculated in relation to the family quotient. To this would be added a “rate of effort”, decided 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 anticipated. “Each community is free either to pay for this increase, if it has the capacity, or to re-invoice it to the parents.“, specifies Ludovic Rochette, president (Horizons) of the mayors of France of Côte-d’Or. If some municipalities like Saint-Julien are still looking for a solution, others have indeed already made the choice to increase prices.
Communities are really scratching their heads that there is no increase.
Ludovic Rochette, president (Horizons) of the mayors of France of Côte-d’Or
“We will surely have median situations, where the efforts will be 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 local authorities alone in the face of a considerable challenge.“
In addition to the financial aspect, everyone agrees on the fact that children must benefit from a balanced diet. “We take care that the menus are“, says Antoine Duguet. “A dietitian accompanies our service provider during their production.“
“The basis is that children eat well“, abounds Ludovic Rochette. “School catering is an important moment. It is our responsibility to find solutions so that the cost is reasonable and bearable 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 proportion which, since the start of the health crisis, has practically doubled.