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Educazione Slow Food - educazione alimentare e del gusto

Jules Ferry School, Millau, France

From Seed to Kitchen

The Jules Ferry school is one of the key players in a very active community of schools, which are working with the local government of Millau to improve the students’ diets and build a strong network of stakeholders who are interested in good, clean and fair food for all. Working with Slow Food France, the school aims to demonstrate to its students the importance of quality food, including aspects of nutrition, taste, cooking, the origins of food, biodiversity and food diversity.

“We would like to assist the children to make good food choices daily and to equip them with information and experiences to do so.” says Annette Caule, Slow Food Rodez Convivium Leader.

The school provides its 191 students with lunch and a snack each day, prepared by staff at a centralized kitchen managed by the municipality. Through the success of a previous project, as much as 15% of the food used for the canteen is sourced locally and the city has decided to increase the proportion of organic food. The canteen now serves the presidium product Planèze de Saint-Flour Golden Lentil once a month as well as a vegetarian meal once a month.

On the City’s Agenda

The ESHF project at Jules Ferry school is part of the nation-wide project “National Program for Nutrition and Health”. The city of Millau is very involved and there have been a number of city wide projects which aim to create an interest in local foods and nutrition. The public catering services including those which provides lunch for the Jules Ferry school have also been involved in improving their service, to provide a more sustainable service.

The project goes beyond the school and includes a wide range of actions which involve the community including planting gardens, developing organic horticultural farms and educating staff and children about food and the senses.   

A Human Investment

The food is cooked in a centralized kitchen, and then transported and reheated at the school. “This is not good for the taste and texture of the food” says Caule, who conducted Slow Food training between November 2009 – January 2010 with a canteen staff member from each school and the head chef at the centralized kitchen. Staff learnt ways to increase the quality of food they serve as well as ways to communicate to the students information about taste, nutrition and the origin of food. Following the success of this, the school is now working with the University of Toulouse to create a degree called Quality Food (HQA - Haute Qualité Alimentaire) dedicated to improving the quality of food in the catering industry.

Success has resulted in more challenges for the canteen service. “The quality of the food has definitely improved and we have also scaled the cost of food to the income of parents. However this has resulted in more and more children eating in the canteen, and with more children to serve, this has made meal-times more rushed.” The school is now looking at finding ways to speed up serving and slow down the the time dedicated to eating.

In the Garden

“From the seed to the kitchen” was the theme chosen for the school’s ESHF project, with plans to develop the school garden as a place where the students can grow fruit and vegetables, teachers can conduct practical education and food harvest can be used for cooking. Through the intended exchange with one of the English speaking participant schools they hope to also create a seed swap.  

Jules Ferry school has already planned a number of visits for its students, including a trip to the gardens of Chayrans to see how fruit and vegetables are grown and to Maison de la cerise  (House of the Cherry) to see the cherry orchard where they can learn about old varieties.

Crossing Borders

Making the most of their new French/English bilingual class, the school would like to utilize this opportunity to develop a “twinning” (exchange) with one of the European canteen project’s English speaking schools. It is hoped that through these exchanges, students can share not only project ideas but also discover the other countries’ cuisines, widening their knowledge of food. As another step to deepen the student’s appreciation of the origin and diversity of food, the school has great aspirations to bring a class to Terra Madre in October 2010.

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