Thinking outside the lunchbox: Bringing "bio" to schools

The French association Bio Consom'acteurs has published "La Bio en Restauration Collective", a handy and informative pamphlet which can be used as a guide for anyone who wants to introduce organic foods into their children's school cafeteria.

The guide, which can be downloaded here was put together by a committee of chefs, nutritionists, doctors, and environmental activists. The authors advocate the use of organic cafeteria food as a political movement which respects the environment, biodiversity, local development, and our children's health.
Bio Consom'acteurs proposes a list of 7 guidelines to aid its readers in introducing organic ingredients into school lunch programs. First, all interested parties should come together and form a group that shares the same concerns, interests, and goals. After this group is formed, they must get in contact with the various organic food producers and retailers in their vicinity. The guide advises being realistic about what is locally and seasonally available when putting together a meal plan and make requests of local producers of organic products.
The third step demands a similar evaluation of the capacity and needs of the school
being served. Is the cafeteria food mostly made on-site, or is it brought in? What is the school's budget for cafeteria food? How many children eat at the cafeteria? These questions can be answered before and during the organic integration process.
Next, the changes made to the school's menu must be done in a way that adapts to the rythm of the cafeteria, the needs and habits of the students, and the fact that a radical change in cooking and eating is underway. While adapting, the 5th guideline advises that consom'acteurs take into account the specificities of organic foods, the fact that whole grain rice, for example, may take longer to cook, or that dry goods may be a more readily available, and cost-effective option.
The 6th guideline offers tips for staying within budget when taking on this project. Some ideas include ways to cut down on waste and planning for economic and nourishing meals.

Finally, the group advises generating a certain amount of attention and valorization around the arrival of organic foods. The guide suggests setting up "discovery" tables that feature new organic products, as well as seasonal (and educational) events that celebrate the harvest and get kids excited about tasting new foods.
All interested moms, dads, teachers, students, and lunch dudes and ladies who want to integrate organic foods into school lunches should check out this helpful handbook. It also offers many links to sites which instruct in learning methods of organic cooking and offer information on other associations who work with cafeterias.