Paris parents take up fight against crummy school meals

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Parents in the 18th arrondissement of Paris have joined forces to take a stand against the poor quality of the meals being served to their children at schools in the area.

For most people, school meals are not a fond memory.

However, according some parents in the French capital, this may be more than a little generous when it comes to public schools in the French capital's 18th arrondissement.

They say that the food being served up to their children is full of hydrogenated fat, sugar, additives, salt, preservatives and dyes. And on top of that many dishes are cooked several days in advance and reheated in plastic trays.

And they should know.

This dynamic collective of parents conducted a three-month "investigation" which included visiting the canteens in question, as well as the central kitchen where 14,000 nursery, school and college meals are prepared everyday.

The kitchen is owned by public service provider Sogeres, which has a 25-year contract to provide meals to the area's schools.

"It's too small…so dishes are cooked three or four days in advance and warmed up before being served to the children. That means that meat dishes are heated in ready-made, industrial and sweet sauce," one parent told BFM TV.

Apparently this includes boiled eggs which are bought already boiled and served to children several days later.

As part of their investigation, the parents collected photos along the way (see below), which have been posted to the group's Facebook page called "Les enfants du 18eme mangent ca" or "Children of the 18th eat that".

And according to the parents, their children have been complaining about the poor quality of their school meals for years.

However the Town Hall has said that the supplier is required to meet very demanding specifications.

In a letter to the parents, the local authorities said that they demand high standards when it comes to "the quality of the ingredients and maintaining respect for the environment."

But the parents are still unsatisfied.

"They might serve organic bread every day, it makes up the percentage [of organic food served] and certified meat only applies to certain parts. For example, yes the chicken leg will be certified but not the nuggets," said another parent.

In September, a new provider is set to be appointed so will it be a case of "Bon appetit" from then on?

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