School cafeterias look to local food

A New Brunswick group has taken over cafeterias in 20 francophone schools, revamping what kids eat at lunchtime.

Réseau des cafétérias communautaires revamping menus

A New Brunswick local-food group is revamping what kids are eating in cafeterias at 20 francophone schools.

Réseau des cafétérias communautaires runs the project and brings homemade and local food to cafeteria menus.

At École Grande-Digue, which is north of Shediac, N.B., cafeteria staff are proud of what they make for the students.

“We know exactly what goes into the food,” said Nadine Richard, a cook at the school. “It's not prepackaged, it's not a lot of preservatives in it or anything like that. It's all homemade food.”

On the menu Monday was whole wheat spaghetti and homemade meat sauce with beef from a local farm. 

The vegetables and fruit are from local growers whenever possible.

The cafeteria network group started two years ago in one school. It has expanded 20 of 36 schools in the francophone south school district.

The goal is not to make profit, said Suzanne Gagnon, the president of the organization.

“We’re helping out all the communities in general,” she said. “Not just the farmers, not just the kids: everyone is profiting from this.”

André Allain's farm has supplied about 4,500 kilograms of potatoes and carrots to schools this year.

“I think it was a great concept, a really great concept,” he said. “It's going to help every little farmer around.”