Workshops “cooking” in college: the key to learn to consume better?


At a time when obesity is a real public health problem and where agri-food marketing promotes quick and easy consumption, based on ready-made meals and ultra-processed products, it is crucial to encourage young people. to adopt good eating habits. Repeated at school or during information campaigns, the messages of the National Program Nutrition Health (PNNS) gives them some benchmarks.

But this nutritional education is not enough. To truly integrate good reflexes, young people need to put into practice the recommendations addressed to them, in connection with everyday life. Should not we then set up cooking classes, but also workshops of awakening to tasting, or a discovery of culinary marketing techniques, if we want to develop food skills, autonomy and longevity. critical thinking of young people to help them become savvy consumers?

This is the challenge raised by the research program “Arts of cooking at the college” , initiated in 2013. For three years, it was tested in a pilot format at the College Marguerite de Valois , in Angouleme (in Charente), around of five modules according to the route of the products, of the fork to the fork. Throughout the course, the students were able to decipher places of purchase, create packaging, discover food professions, learn the arts of the table and learn how to cook balanced recipes.

Cooking to create a link between college and family

The originality of this food education program is to create a continuum of learning between workshops and families so that the practices discovered at college can really become part of everyday life. This was done through simple tools such as a logbook , a lunch box to bring homemade preparations home for family tastings as well as friendly events with parents.

The results of the research highlighted the positive impact of this project on adolescents’ eating behavior, school climate, and family relationships.

Following this success, another institution contacted the steering group in 2015 to benefit from the program. Even if the program had been effective in a given context, the effects observed may vary from one situation to another. Hence the value of evaluating the transfer of the AFCC program to determine the conditions necessary for any institution to appropriate it.

In this second college, which is classified as REP + , young people from a predominantly modest to disadvantaged population (more than 60% of the parents were unemployed) had difficulty in accessing sufficient quality food.

As with the pilot institution, the second college had difficulties in involving families in the school project and in uniting the education team around common objectives and a unifying project. The challenge of the steering group was as follows:

“If we are able to implement the AFCP program in a priority education institution with higher problems than in the pilot, then this may reveal the key factors to take into account to put it in place in any establishment »

An educational program that extends

Thanks to the methodological guide of the AFCC program and its collective use, the actors were able to distinguish between the “key success factors” that underpin the effectiveness of the intervention, aspects related only to the form of the intervention, which, they can be adapted.

After comparing the populations and the environment of the two institutions, the research identified the “right ingredients” to ensure the success of this type of educational program:

Supported by the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Agriculture , the AFCC program has been running for six years in other institutions, in France, Overseas France and Quebec.

After an evaluation by experts, the methodological guide is now referenced by the INC (National Institute of Consumption). It is also referenced on many sites and platforms .

Today, the program is developed at Aliénor College of Aquitaine in Bordeaux, it is followed by the steering group. This new duplication is supported by the city ​​of Bordeaux

Author Bio: Emilie Orliange is a PhD student in Consumer Behavior – Head of the AFCC program “Culinary Arts at the College” at the University of Poitiers