Deployment of Nutri-Score: report from a school campus in Valbonne
Offer greater nutritional transparency to students
Vincent Menardo is the catering manager for a school campus in Valbonne, where, every day, his kitchen teams prepare meals for nearly 2,000 middle-school, high-school and post-bac students, aged 12 to 22. Meals are taken in two self-service cafeterias and a canteen. The establishment also manages a boarding school and a vacation center which means that Elior cooks 365 days a year, morning, noon and evening.
To ensure that all adolescents and young adults eat balanced meals, Nutri-Score has been designed to guide them in making their nutritional choices. When they return to school this September, they will have access to nutritional information on their meals via an application or restaurant display.
Nutri-Score is a promising project, and meets the high expectations of parents. While everyone is familiar with Nutri-Score in their daily lives, Elior is the first catering company to deploy it in school canteens.
Vincent Menardo - Catering manager for a school campus in Valbonne
The Nutri-Score will be displayed at the entrance of the cafeterias frequented by high-school students, preparatory-class students and adults. For college kids, things are a little different. Initially, the information will be accessible to parents on the application only, not in the canteen. Indeed, from the 6th to the 3rd grade, children must be accompanied in making their choices so as to compose a balanced meal.
Ensure students understand Nutri-Score correctly
Where young people are concerned, the deployment of Nutri-Score requires adopting an educational approach. Eating exclusively Nutri-Score A products is not enough and is not synonymous with a balanced diet. Dairy products, particularly cheese, are for example rated D or E, but are essential for the growth of children because they need calcium.
When creating children’s' menus, dieticians consider several factors:
- The needs of children and adolescents with regard to certain specific nutritional elements, such as iron, calcium and essential fatty acids (omega 3), which are necessary for their growth.
- Variety: a balanced menu consists of fruits and vegetables as well as a variety of starches, animal proteins, dairy products and also fish, etc.
- Legislation, which for example imposes featuring one vegetarian menu per week in the school catering sector (Egalim law)
- A balanced diet on the scale of one meal and over 20 successive meals
- The seasonality of products
- The tastes of children to ensure that the recipes are appreciated by our young guests
Once the menu has been established, Nutri-Score provides transparency on the nutritional quality of the menus served to our children. Nutri-Score’s 5-color coded logo provides information on the nutritional quality of a recipe or a dish, each product being graded on a 5-level scale ranging from Grade A products, which are deemed to be the most nutritious, down to Grade E products that are considered the least nutritious.
As such, this information is easy for everybody to read and understand, and directs the consumer to the nutrients and foods they should prioritize (fibers, proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, rapeseed and nuts.), as well as the nutrients they should limit (energy, saturated fatty acids, sugars, salt). Nutri-Score enables the students to get back to the fundamentals and learn how to put together a balanced meal. For instance, a category B starter could be an interesting choice if it combines a mixture of raw vegetables and dairy products.
As such, the deployment on the Valbonne school campus is being accompanied by a visual communication campaign, to explain to students and their parents how Nutri-Score works, which is supplemented by verbal explanations from Elior staff members and school supervisors who are available to answer any questions.
Training of Elior’s kitchen teams
Meals are prepared and served on site by a team of 23 people working either in the kitchen or serving in the restaurants. Team training is necessary to ensure that everyone is aware of the process. Respecting grammages for example, is essential in particular to cook with the right amount of salt, sugar or fat.
During the summer and at the beginning of the school year, staff are trained to familiarize themselves with this tool, and to ensure the consistency of their notes and recipes. It is necessary that the teams adhere to it and can use it efficiently. To limit food waste, unsold luncheon items, such as starchy foods, are generally reworked as pasta or rice-salad starters for the following menu. The kitchen teams then recalculate the Nutri-Score for these recipes, using the tools at their disposal.