France Montpellier
Loss and waste
Social and Economic Equity
Supply & Distribution
Sustainable diets & Nutrition

“Ma Cantine Autrement” or “My School Lunch, differently” : fighting food waste and reducing waste while raising awareness among young and old


City of Montpellier

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Since 2014, the Métropole de Montpellier has been working on the issue of local catering supply on its territory. This is Axis 2 of its Agro-ecological and Food Policy (P2A): "Promote local supply to the City and the Metropolis, in particular that of Collective Catering". “Ma Cantine Autrement” was born out of the Agro-ecological and Food Policy of Montpellier Métropolis, and the city’s signature of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. 

The City of Montpellier is committed to establishing a sustainable food system, in particular by offering healthy, quality, ethical and sustainable food accessible to all in its school restaurants. The City self-manages the production and distribution of 14,600 meals per day in its 89 school restaurants and 42 child-care leisure centers. 22,000 families are impacted every day by the city's school meals.

Awareness and reduction of food waste in school meals became mandatory on September 1, 2016. The City then decided to conduct a precise diagnosis of food waste in its school restaurants. The analysis focused on the modes of production, service and eating conditions with the participation of management players, purchasing and catering professionals and educational teams. Following this, a global action plan was defined "Ma Cantine Autrement", articulated around 4 major axes:

  • a sustainable food purchasing policy
  • improved production management
  • optimized and modernized meal distribution
  • awareness of sustainable food

This approach takes into account all the stages of the food chain including the recovery of bio-waste: it is a circular economy approach, from garden fork to table fork and from table fork to garden fork.


The "Ma Cantine Autrement" project is part of the optimization of school meals, aiming to promote and develop sustainable food for children who have lunch in the city's school restaurants. 

The project pursues the following objectives:

  • develop the integration of products from local circuits and organic farming in the menus, 
  • encourage children to be more aware of the food they eat and on food sustainability,
  • train staff who distribute meals in food quality, nutritional balance and meal time support,
  • fight against food waste,
  • optimize the production management of the central kitchen,
  • facilitate the distribution of meals in school canteens.

Being articulated around four fundamental axes (mentioned above), the project is thought of as an interactive system: each axis has an impact on the other. This manifests itself for example with the new local-purchasing policy which tends to develop not only local farming, but also introduces organic produce in school meals, and encourages a new model of relations between producers, breeders and for example, the Market of National Interest (MIN) in Montpellier. Actions are evaluated annually to adjust the action plan.

Working on a sustainable food system is a major challenge; it is also an issue of public health, an issue of integration into its territory through food, an issue of living well together and an issue of awareness and education for citizens.

The program brings together 18 activities, some of which are mentioned below:

  • Eco-friendly alternative meal : a menu without animal products is served twice a month
  • the percentage of products from organic and local agriculture is increased
  • plastic trays are replaced by bio-compostable trays
  • food groups or lots are better defined :  since 2015, tenders for the supply of the central kitchen have been separated into finer food lots, by product or family of products (eg definition of the “Apples” and “Camargue Rice” lots ) to allow local producers to respond. There are currently 74 lots. 

Self-service systems have been adopted and children are invited to help themselves to their own meals, with the aim of making them responsible for what they choose to eat. Children learn autonomy in how to serve themselves as in how to serve their tray and sort their waste. The child becomes a major player in his meal.

Since 2016, the project has continued. In 2018, fruit and vegetable cutting kits were made available; 6 sorting tables have been set up in school restaurants in the city for awareness-raising and weighing actions.

The “Operation Brocolis” show of the Minibus Company has been played since 2015 as part of extracurricular activities and since then, more than 4,000 children have attended the show. In 2016, it was updated at the request of the Department of Agriculture in order to integrate it definitively into the “Ma Cantine Autrement” project and to offer it each year to more than 6 schools. 

In 2019, in partnership with the Terres Nourricières association, an educational booklet was built and tested with more than 200 children. This booklet is made of 6 animation sequences on agroecology and sustainable food (at the end of which the children obtain a diploma from the eco-schoolboy and bring their booklet home) has been validated by both children and the City's department dedicated to entertainment. In 2020, the booklet will be available to all city leaders.

Vidéo de présentation - Ma Cantine Autrement, URBAL

Some numbers :

  • 27% reduction in food waste
  • 200 tonnes of bio-waste recovered / year
  • 69 tonnes of food saved per year
  • Over 10,000 meals given to the humanitarian association Saint Vincent de Paul 
  • Over 5,000 meals given to the Restaurants du Coeur food bank
  • 20% organic products in 2020
  • 50% local products in 2020

Project leaders

The project was able to be financed thanks to the budget of the Food Policy of the city of Montpellier, with the support ot ADEME (Environment and Energy Management), DRAAF (General Direction of Food, Agriculture and Occitan Forest) and the Region.

The aim of this project is to mobilize all of the teams: support and distribution staff for school meals, but also staff from the Food Policy Department, including teams from the central kitchen. In total, 57 agents were trained by a city dietitian-qualitician in nutritional balance and in the production of meals in the central kitchen in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 150 agents are trained each year to accompany meal times.

The project also benefited from the intervention of the association “Terre Nourricière” for the creation of educational tools, as well as the intervention of the theater company “Compagnie Minibus”.

The Little Extra

Created as part of the new food purchasing policy implemented by the “Ma Cantine Autrement” scheme, an organic bread chain structure was created in the Montpellier canteens in 2016. The aim was to build a chain of organic and locally made bread, while increasing the nutritional value of the product (through the switch to more nutritious flour). The organic bread sector in the canteens was structured in one year. Flour is cultivated in the Hérault plains, less than 50 km from Montpellier. It is processed at the Sauret Mill in Montpellier.

The bread is then made by the organic and solidarity bakery "Pain et Partage" in Fabrègues. Finally, it is distributed every day in school canteens in the City and in certain municipalities of the Metropolis. Since February 2016, 1,600 to 1,700 organic bread loaves are served every day in the canteens.

The introduction of organic and local bread in its canteens thus constitutes the first success among the attempts at local supply.

Discover the network of solidarity bakeries :

  • Romuald Adriansen –  Production manager
  • Benjamin Borel, Samuel Mougin– Co-managers
  • -

Know more

La plateforme BoCal

Le Pacte de politiques alimentaires urbaines de Milan

Written by Lise Oudda, LFC volunteer LFC - April 2020

Last modification : 22 Apr 2020.

City of Montpellier

50 Place de Zeus Montpellier France

"Ma Cantine Autrement", or how to make children involved in their school meals. The project offers a holistic approach to the food chain in school meals and seeks to promote an eco-responsible food supply using products from organic farming or short circuits. This program corresponds to municipal authorities’ action in schools. Children are invited to discover responsible and sustainable menus - without animal proteins - and to awaken their taste to new flavors to diversify their diet. They also learn to limit food waste, thanks to bio-waste sorting tables with integrated weighing, for fun and educational purposes.


Luc Lignon
Direction de la Politique Alimentaire, Département de la Réussite Éducative et Patrimoine Immobilier, Mairie de Montpellier 04 34 88 76 44