For a few days, the children of certain municipalities in the region of Béziers (Hérault) have been deprived of dessert, in the canteen. Sometimes it’s cheese, or an appetizer, that they have to go without. “It depends on the day, depending on the deliveries,” laments the father of a student. Strangled by inflation, the service provider who provides school catering in a dozen local towns (Agde, Montblanc, Sauvian, Vias, etc.) is no longer able to offer residents all of the meals provided.
Friday, the pears, the dessert displayed on the menu, had not been delivered to Agde, regrets Yannick Hivin, the director general of the services of the commune. This Monday, at noon, it is a dairy product, which was missing this time. “It’s a unilateral choice of the service provider,” he says. Usually, in a menu, there are five components. He decided to go to four. “The town hall of Agde was notified on Thursday November 10, “for implementation on Monday 14. Knowing that Friday was a public holiday,” notes Yannick Hivin. Since then, regrets the general manager of Agde services, “the menus are no longer balanced”. “Children should not be taken hostage, it is unacceptable. »
“My daughter regularly tells me that she is very hungry”
For their part, parents of students are struggling to swallow the sudden relief of menus in Biterrois. “Depending on the midday meal, we know that the children will catch up on the dessert. A yogurt or a fruit, it goes better. And the starter can be a complement, when you have, in dish, broccoli! “, scolds a mother of a Montblanc student, who fears that there will be a price increase in a few weeks. “What bothers me is that we pay for a service that is no longer provided,” says this mother. “My daughter regularly tells me that she is very hungry”, assures a dad from Montblanc.
According to this Héraultais, other devices could be put in place. “Of course, the children have to eat everything. But we know when these are things they like less, in these cases, we can possibly reduce the quantities, and offer a dairy product, for example. But for that, parents need to be involved in these decisions. For the moment, this is not the case, he laments. “What is very damaging is that the parents were not warned, it was the children who spoke to them about it”, regrets the grandmother of a pupil educated in Agde, who concedes, however, even if she doesn’t know the exact proportions, that “starter, main course and dessert” is often “a lot, for a child”. “Sometimes there is waste,” she says.
“It’s a job without margins”
Contacted by 20 minutes, the provider, SHCB, has not yet responded to our requests. HAS France Blue Herault, Friday, Thierry Pompanon, its managing director, assured that his company was “in survival mode”. “We are not in blackmail mode”, confides the leader, who notes that the situation of SHCB is “transparent”.
For 3 euros or less, it has become very complicated, said Thierry Pompanon, to make an organic meal. “Nobody is able to understand, today, what is happening in collective catering, he notes, with the station. Prices have been dragged down for years. It is a business without margins. We have between 3 and 5% margins, in the best case. We have suppliers who give us increases that we are unable to pass on to our customers. I am describing the situation of a company that is going to disappear. “Thierry Pompanon, who fears for the future of jobs in his company, claims to have requested mediation from the town hall of Agde. “A mediation, we do not ask for it, we engage it, with the administrative court, rectifies Yannick Hivin, the director general of the services of the commune. And she wasn’t engaged. »
Just for the kitchens that make meals in Agde, SHCB ensures that it loses, each month, due to inflation, around 100,000 euros. For its part, the municipality specifies to 20 minutes that it has released, in recent months, compensation of 116,000 euros, linked to the Covid-19 crisis. Aid “on which we had no obligation”, points out Yannick Hivin. In the municipalities affected, in particular in Agde, the largest of them, negotiations with the service provider who prepares the meal are underway. In the meantime, the children will have to tighten their belts at mealtime.