Why menus in school canteens are ideological subjects

From environmentalists to the RN, on themes dear to their electorate, local elected officials use the menus served at school as symbols.

In this month of February alone, school canteens hit the headlines three times. “Let’s stop putting ideology on our children’s plates!“Julien Denormandie warned this Sunday. The Minister of Agriculture and Food reacted to the choice to offer a unique menu without meat to Lyon schoolchildren. The ecologist town hall ensures that it is “correspond to the tastes of the greatest number“To reach”serve students faster and streamline mealsIn these times of pandemic. However, it is difficult not to see it as a political choice. Julien Bayou, first secretary of Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV), explained again in January, about the regional, that this famous local level could “to be the spearhead of ecological transformation“Thanks among others to”food in school canteens“. The party further considers that “the climatic and environmental emergency imposes the need to engage France and Europe in the food transition towards a more vegetable consumption …“. We stay away from questions related to the transmission of Covid-19.

Another controversy arose in Alsace earlier this week. The introduction of game meat in college menus has bristled associations for the defense of wild animals. Frédéric Bierry, president of the European community of Alsace, had children test an “Obelix burger”: wild boar from local hunting, tomato sauce with lentils and tomme des Vosges. The elected LR told France Bleu Alsace that he wanted to give the industry a boost. “There is an overpopulation of wild boars and accidents because of it. So what solution? With the restaurants closed, there are fewer opportunities.A few months before the departmental elections, reassuring the rural world, and the vote hunters coveted by the far right, can be interesting.

Finally, on February 9, the mayor Rassemblement national de Beaucaire received bad news from the administrative tribunal of Nîmes. His decision to ban substitute menus in the canteen, even on days when pork was served, was rebutted. “I had noticed that when this meat was offered, the Muslim students had a separate table, explains the Gardois councilor to Figaro. They were placed there so as not to make mistakes in the distribution of replacement meals. It was to introduce a religious prohibition that the secular school does not have to know“. For him, this is not an ideological decision, just an application of the law. “The next step will be the hallal in the canteens, there are already parents who ask for it», He says. He will appeal the decision. “I had the impression of being in Saudi Arabia ”, he gets carried away. This ban was in any case to the taste of the central organ of Marine Le Pen’s party. In its balance sheet published before the 2020 municipal elections, to prove that the cities held by the party are a “model for France”, it is cited as an example in the “Defense of traditions” category.

«It is complicated to show rapid change at the local level, eexplains Jean Pétaux, political scientist at Sciences Po Bordeaux. It’s harder than at the national level. Town planning, for example, takes years. The elected officials are therefore obliged to overplay on the symbols“. Topics related to canteens “allow to address parents“. They are “fast, inexpensive and buzzingHe continues. The recipe has proven itself. In 1977, the new left-wing mayors stepped up to the plate against funding for school canteens in private schools under contract. Jean Pétaux has fun: “45 years apart, children’s food is once again a political instrument.»

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