menu prices skyrocket for the start of the school year

menu prices skyrocket for the start of the school year
menu prices skyrocket for the start of the school year

After school supplies, the canteen risks weighing heavily on parents’ wallets at the start of the school year. Unsurprisingly, the school catering service has been hit hard by inflation (6.1% over one year in July according to INSEE). Foodstuffs, energy, wages… The price of menus is likely to increase by 5 to 10% according to the Association of Mayors of France, which has been warning since May of this upcoming increase.

The municipalities, which manage this public service in primary schools, have already got their hands on the wallet. The National Union of Collective Catering (SNRC) has obtained a 4% increase for the coming school year for all schools.

But for professionals in the sector, this increase will not be enough to offset the additional cost due to inflation. Food prices rose by more than 10%. Added to this are the cost of energy and the increase in the minimum wage… All these increases lead us to a minimum of 7% for the whole of 2022 »explains Esther Kalonji, general delegate of the union.

An additional cost for municipalities

Currently, negotiations are underway between the union, manufacturers and municipalities to revise the price of services upwards. Multi-year contracts include review clauses. Usually, they take predictable prices into account. But we are facing an unprecedented, unpredictable increase. We are out of cost coverage,” continues the representative. The SNRC is thus calling for a revision of the price of services from September in certain municipalities, in January 2023 for others.

For mayors, this additional cost is a new headache in the management of the municipal budget. Not mandatory for municipalities, school catering is the most expensive public service in a community, because the least paid by taxpayers », explains Stéphane Beaudet, president of the Association of mayors of Île-de-France. For example, the mayor of Évry-Courcouronnes charges an average of €4.20 for the meal, while the total cost is currently €11.

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In the event of an increase, some municipalities may directly affect the prices, paid by the parents of pupils. An option that is often difficult or even impossible for municipalities with strained social conditions » : Some families currently pay 1 euro for a meal. If I increase this price, the parents will withdraw the children from the canteen, which is sometimes their only real meal of the day. »sighs Stéphane Beaudet. Its town hall will thus collect this additional cost initially, rather than having its inhabitants pay it.

Other levers to maintain tariffs

To preserve the current rates, some municipalities have, for their part, raised the idea of ​​increasing a tax or reducing the budget on another item of expenditure. Finally, children could also be involved with a reduction in the choice in the selfs, or a reduction in the quantities.

To reduce costs, the SNRC also offers more flexibility in the organization and ordering of meals. Currently, some municipalities set the menus two to three months in advance, complicated requests with the current context. The market is tense, some commodities have suffered very high inflation: these are purchases that are no longer possiblecontinues Esther Kalonji. We are asking for more flexibility, while guaranteeing the nutritional quality of the meals. For example, instead of fixing a specific type of fruit, we can provide a seasonal fruit, depending on what the market offers. »

Fight against waste

Without forgetting, finally, the fight against food waste, a real scourge of school canteens. According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture in 2015, almost a third of uneaten meals are thrown away every year. For Esther Kalonji, this lever must be taken into account in the negotiations to revise downwards the quantity of meals distributed: “ For instance, it is worth better to serve the children again rather than putting a lot of them directly on their plate”underlines the general delegate.

Similarly, the union supports the introduction of a time limit to warn of the absence of children in the canteen in order to better gauge the number of children present for lunch.

The article is in French

Tags: menu prices skyrocket start school year

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