Encouraging better eating habits at school cafeterias

In France, no less than 7 million students have lunch at school cafeterias. The Danone Institute in France sought to understand what the impact of school catering on children’s diets could be. Indeed, several factors come into play as it pertains to food patterns in children: noise, table composition, food phobias and preferences, cafeteria staff’s behavior, etc. Based on its knowledge and observations, the Danone Institute in France has developed “Clémantine”, a training program to raise awareness and train the staff involved in these mealtimes, with the goal to improve children’s experience and practices when it comes to food.

This free program empowers adults to teach children some fundamental aspects about eating. They learn to eat together and share a table, and to enjoy the same foods, among other things. Developed initially with 4 partner cities, “Clémantine” is in deployment phase across the country.

The “Clémantine” program is made up of 4 chapters, with standard and advanced units. Each unit comes with a self-assessment that aims to guarantee a good understanding of the main messages.  The 4 chapters are segmented as follows:

  • School catering: its role, the way it should answer children’s nutritional needs, hygiene and food safety, budget constraints, etc.
  • Children’s diets: healthy balanced diets, nutritional needs for growth, food allergies, etc.
  • Children’s tastes: taste and olfactory receptors, taste evolution in children, preferences and aversions, individual and cultural variations, etc.
  • Meal settings: reducing noise, focusing on table placement, rethinking verbal and non-verbal interactions, managing children during mealtimes, etc.

The role of food is well established in improving children’s health, making school cafeterias a priority area for children’s dietary education and balance. Thanks to a fun and educational approach via an online training platform, “Clémantine” pushes expert contents and themes in a simple way, making the learnings accessible to all cafeteria staff, and therefore contributing to the development of appropriate lifelong dietary habits in children. 

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