• According to the Observatory of the Peep published last week, 55% of families believe that the price of school catering in the public has increased this year.

  • In the private sector, this impression is even stronger, as many local authorities do not participate in school catering costs for the students of these establishments.

  • Faced with this situation, some families have not registered their children in the canteen or drastically limit the days of meals in the establishment.

    A phenomenon that could be further amplified in the coming months.

The canteen is not within everyone's reach this fall.

Inflation, soaring prices for certain raw materials and rising energy prices have pushed up the cost of meals for catering companies, which charge communities more for them.

According to the AMF, the association of mayors of France, their price has thus increased by 5 to 10% at this start of the school year, even if many communities have chosen to assume part of the additional cost.

An increase felt by parents, because according to the Observatory of the Peep published last Friday, 55% of families believe that the price of catering in the public has indeed increased.

“The cost of the meal is 5.68 euros, against 5.01 last year.

If I could, I would take them out of the canteen, because it's too expensive, ”says Sophie, mother of two, who responded to our call for witnesses.

“I pay the full price, 6 euros per canteen day.

Financially it is very complicated”, also notes Laurène.

In the private sector, the even saltier bill

In the private sector, the increase is even more marked, with many local authorities not contributing to school catering costs for students in these establishments.

And the price of the canteen can even be an obstacle to enrolment, as Philippe Delorme, Secretary General of Catholic Education, declared during his back-to-school press conference: "Faced with difficulties, a large number of families have given up enrolling their children in our establishments – or even de-enrolling them –, unable today to meet the costs of catering and school transport…”.

But for those who are determined that their children be educated in the private sector, the most viable solution is sometimes to ignore the canteen.

This is the choice of Anne-Sophie, mother of three college students: “The meals are too expensive (between 5 and 6 euros per child).

I am the head of an agricultural business, so I have arranged my schedule to go back and forth every day in order to have them have lunch at home, which is 12 km from their college”.

Suleya, mother of two boys, has decided to limit the canteen days: “I already pay 240 euros per month for their schooling, to which I add 192 euros just for two canteen days per week.


“I stopped putting my daughter in the canteen on Mondays”

Families whose children are educated in the public have also decided to no longer enroll their child in the canteen, or only on certain days.

Like Coralie, who lives in Chennevières-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne): “I stopped putting my daughter in the canteen on Mondays, because the prices have increased by 50%.

Laura, mother of two children in Villers le lac (Bourgogne-Franche-Comté), had the same reflex when the price of lunch, combined with childcare costs for the lunch break, went from 7.60 to 8.40 euros.

"It was too much.

Especially since my city does not vary the price according to the family coefficient.

My children now only go to the canteen for lunch two days a week.

It will soon be as expensive to send them to the canteen as to the local restaurant!

“, she protests.

Others have not yet made the decision to withdraw their children from the canteen, but could do so during the year.

According to an Ifop poll for the national union for collective catering (SNRC) * published in September, four out of ten parents would consider reducing the number of meals taken in the canteen in the event of an excessive increase.

“They know that the prices between collective catering companies and communities can be renegotiated upwards during the year”, reports Isabelle Fery, secretary general of the Peep Federation.

This is not improbable, since the SNRC calls for an increase of at least 7% in the contractual prices of meals offered to communities.

Stop working to limit costs

Worse still, some mothers simply consider quitting work so they can have their children eat lunch at home.

Like Elodie, mother of 4 children in Oberhausbergen (Bas-Rhin): “Meals are charged at 4.95 euros regardless of family income.

It is necessary to add the childcare costs for the meridian break, which can range from 2 to 8 euros, according to the family coefficient.

I am alone with 4 children and I work part-time, but I can't do it anymore.

Between the canteen and the evening nursery, I come close to 300 euros.

I plan to stop working to get out of it better financially,” she confides.

Fatima, mother of 2 children, is in the same state of mind: "With the canteen and the leisure center whose price has increased very sharply, I plan to stop working in 2023".


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* Ifop survey for the SNRC carried out online from July 22 to 27 with 1,001 parents, according to the quota method.

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