Claude Haagen, Luxembourg’s Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, pictured with children from the Contern maison relais; Credit: MA

On Tuesday 29 August 2023, the Luxembourg Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, Claude Haagen, took stock of two projects funded by the ministry, which aim to raise awareness of food waste and local and organic food, in the presence of Carla Jellema (IMS Luxemburg) and chefs Dominique Pincon and Michelle Weber (Elisabeth).

According to Luxembourg’s Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development, one of the government's objectives is to increase the share of regional and organic products in collective kitchens. The National Bio 2025 Action Plan (PAN BIO 2025) thus aims for 50% of products from national agriculture, including two-fifths from organic farming in these kitchens. The projects presented at the press conference are part of the various actions with which the ministry intends to achieve these objectives.

I think these goals are realistic. Restopolis has gone to great lengths with their ‘food4future’ concept to achieve these goals in secondary school collective kitchens. These two projects aim to achieve these objectives also in the collective kitchens of the ‘maisons relais’ [childminding services] and we are on the right track,” emphasised Minister Haagen.

The pilot project “Mir sinn Antigaspi, an Dir?” (we are against waste, and you?) is a project that was carried out with children aged four to twelve in four “maisons relais” (childminding services) (Dalheim, Grosbous-Wahl, Kehlen, Rumelange). The goal was to educate children and indirectly their parents on food waste and on local and organic food. Activities used to encourage learning and appreciating food better were notably: cooking together, learning more about expiry dates, planting salads, picking cherries, meeting food producers, playing games about seasonal fruits and vegetables and developing a menu. The childminding services sessions also served to show the children what is thrown away daily and to teach them how to avoid this.

Given the positive feedback from the participating structures, it is planned to develop a practical guide accompanied by educational material that will allow educators from other “maisons relais” to organise these challenges in turn to raise children's awareness of food waste and the benefits of local, organic and seasonal food.

The other project funded by the Agriculture Ministry consists of offering free tailor-made training to chefs and those responsible for the budget of childminding services in all municipalities in Luxembourg. The aim of this project is to help them use more local and organic products in their school canteens, while wasting less food. 37 municipalities, serving more than 13,000 dishes daily, have already benefitted from this training, in which the chefs of the Elisabeth group, among others, participated. As part of this training, which started in March 2023, follow ups with those concerned are planned, in order to analyse the progress made together and to identify possible implementation problems. The ministry noted that childminding services that have not yet availed this offer can still do so.

These training courses aim to show managers of collective kitchens the importance and benefits of regional and organic products while wasting less food. According to the ministry, the trainers have found that it is important that these values also be transmitted to children during their meals. “Being well supervised during meals is essential so that children can fully appreciate food and learn to waste less. This is why we want to launch a new project, aimed at educators who supervise children during meals, so that they can teach them these values from an early age. Because the children of today are the consumers of tomorrow,” stressed Minister Haagen.

All these initiatives aim to contribute to the use of more regional and organic products in the collective kitchens of primary schools, the ministry noted. “For our farmers it is important to have new outlets. In addition, the path from their farm to the kitchen of ‘maisons relais’ is extremely short, which is in favour of sustainable agriculture,” concluded Minister Haagen.