POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EDUCATION

School and university catering

Sustainable food and vegan Mondays in school canteens



Claude Meisch and the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth want more local and organic food in the country's canteens.  (Photo: archives/Maison Moderne)

Claude Meisch and the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth want more local and organic food in the country's canteens.  (Photo: archives/Maison Moderne)

Claude Meisch, minister for education, children and youth, presented the "Food4Future" concept on Tuesday, which aims to be a small "sustainable" revolution in the plates of Luxembourg's school and university canteens.

The ministry of education, children and youth is committed to a better, healthy and sustainable diet in school and university canteens. This sums up in one sentence the "Food4Future" project presented on Tuesday by Meisch.

The concept has been in place since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year in the Restopolis canteens, and in some university and school cafeterias.

More than 45,000 meals per day

The Food4Future meals will be served in 74 school canteens, seven university restaurants and six day-care centres, for a total of 15,750 meals a day in the school canteens and almost 30,000 in the cafeterias.

“Restopolis is a very big player in Luxembourg, with a lot of experience. It has managed to convince its customers. And today, it is the first on a national level to take a further step in the direction of even more sustainable and healthier food,” explained Meisch.

“Food4Future” aims to change the eating habits of young people in order to reduce the impact on the environment.

This is to be achieved through six objectives, called “RestoGoals,” which are themselves subdivided into various initiatives, which the minister for education summarised as follows: “Food that comes more from local and organic producers, through the implementation of the PAN-Bio 2025 action plan, which aims to ensure that 50% of the products in collective catering subsidised by the State come from Luxembourg agriculture. A preferential short circuit also. But also an increased fight to reduce waste with, in particular, the implementation of a meal reservation system. All this while limiting the creation of waste as much as possible and abandoning unsustainable products and introducing a new range of meals, more geared towards vegetarianism.”

A pilot project in three schools

It is in this area that the most daring measure appears: the introduction of "Veggie Mondays". The pilot project will be tested between the All Saints' and Carnival holidays in three schools (the Athénée de Luxembourg, the Aline Mayrisch high school and the Michel Rodange high school). The dishes offered in the three schools’ canteens on Mondays during this period will be exclusively vegan.

“On the other days of the week, students will have the choice, as in the other schools, between a vegetarian or vegan menu on the one hand and a menu offering meat or fish on the other. At the end of the Veggie Mondays test period, an evaluation will of course be carried out to see if it can be extended to other canteens. We hope that the concern we have of seeing a reduction in the number of people attending the canteens on these days, while seeing the lines growing longer in front of the kebabs or pizza places on the corner, will not become a reality,” said Meisch.

The young people have been listened to

The education minister is confident however. After all, the idea of promoting vegetarian food products came in part from the students themselves.

“After the various climate protests by young people, we said to ourselves that, as the ministry of education, children and youth, we had to react. That we had to contact these young people more, to involve them in concrete discussions with them. This is what we did. And a more sustainable, organic, vegetarian and vegan canteen was also part of their demands,” concludes Meisch.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.