At the private college of Plérin, the hunt for food waste has been open for a long time! – Brittany



It’s 12 o’clock. The first college students arrive at the self-service under the eyes of Élise Jourdain, the principal education advisor (CPE). The queue forms and the atmosphere is relaxed. This afternoon, some 350 meals will be served, like every day of the week. With the constant aim of minimizing waste. “Six years ago, we made the diagnosis that we were throwing away too much. It was expensive for the establishment and it was not great for the planet, ”explains the one? which is at the origin of many environmental actions in the establishment. “Immediately, we reviewed our organization. The first action was to force the students to help themselves to bread once their tray was full. Before, they had eyes bigger than their stomachs when they took their place in line. Very quickly, we went from 350 rations a day to 200”.

At the initiative of the fight against waste, Élise Jourdain created a group of ambassadors of sustainable development in the establishment. (The Telegram/Didier Deniel)

Some foods too, which were not very popular with teenagers, have been banned from menus. Like mashed split peas that ended up massively in the trash.

The management of the establishment has also opted for an appetizer bar, where everyone helps themselves according to their desires and appetite. “Before, we distributed standard portions. Without taking into account the fact that the appetite of a small 6th has nothing to do with that of a large 3rd”, continues the CPE who wishes to specify that “extra” vegetables and starch is always offered. to those who have a gargantuan appetite.

The appetizer bar.  Everyone uses it according to their appetite.  Prohibition, however, to fill a large plate of main course.
The appetizer bar. Everyone uses it according to their appetite. Prohibition, however, to fill a large plate of main course. (The Telegram/Didier Deniel)

A barter table

A few months ago, too, the large stainless steel gastro containers that did not come out of the kitchen, and had therefore not been touched by anyone, ended up emptied in the trash. “It’s over now. We put them in a cooling cell and serve them again the next day, ”explains an agent in the kitchen.

Before covid, students found a barter table in the self-service cafeteria, where they could exchange an apple for a yogurt, or an appetizer for another. The current sanitary conditions should allow the college to relaunch this device which, it seems, worked really well.

Regularly, too, Élise Jourdain exhibited in front of the college students, the lost food, to mark the spirits. Some days, there were more than 30 full plates, as well as a large gastro container.

For several years now, college students have been helping themselves to bread at the end of the self-service queue.  Consumption has gone from 350 to 200 servings.
For several years now, college students have been helping themselves to bread at the end of the self-service queue. Consumption has gone from 350 to 200 servings. (The Telegram/Didier Deniel)

Know precisely the number of absentees

Another great advance that seems so logical: knowing precisely the number of children who must be served. “From 8:30 am, I communicate to the cook of Saint-Pierre, in Saint-Brieuc, where our meals are cooked, the exact number of trays to be served”, details the CPE. “Some days, like last Tuesday, we can have 15 sick absentees. It’s a lot “.

Similarly, if for a reason other than medical, a student is led not to eat at the self-catering, he must notify the establishment 48 hours in advance.

Everyone uses it according to their taste and appetite.
Everyone uses it according to their taste and appetite. (The Telegram/Didier Deniel)

To support these advances, a catering commission was created, made up of students, parents and members of management. All topics are covered, such as the frequency constraints of fried products. And, yes, we are not allowed to serve fries every day… All this information is then communicated to the students in class.

Two times less bins

Today, what conclusions can we draw from these initiatives? “It’s been a long time since we weighed the thrown away food,” replies the CPE. “What we know is that our bins were emptied once a week a few years ago, whereas a single round, every two weeks, is enough today”. Limiting waste has also made it possible to gain in profitability to buy better products closer to the establishment.

Students crushing the compost at noon.
Students crushing the compost at noon. (The Telegram/Didier Deniel)

Alongside these anti-waste measures, a program of virtuous environmental actions has been implemented. “A compost was created with the help of our neighbors from the Departmental Hunting Federation. But also a chicken coop and an orchard. Our students take care of it. Soon, we will set up an educational vegetable garden. It will aim to show students that food does not fall from the sky. And that it takes patience and hard work to grow a tomato.”

In the cafeteria, the college students serve themselves and place themselves. All seem perfectly aware of these actions. “We eat really well here. And they don’t serve us food that we don’t like”, tell Eugénie and Julie who are in 3rd grade. On their plate that day: pasta, salmon, but also broccoli. Enjoy your lunch !

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