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Volunteering and eco-volunteering are promoted and implemented by a great many associations, which may receive financial support from the public authorities or such bilateral offices as the Franco-German Office (OFAJ) which organises VEFAs – Franco-German ecological volunteering schemes (volontariats écologiques franco-allemand).
VEFAs provide young people between 18 and 25 y/o with the opportunity to carry out a year’s volunteering in Germany, with a view to acquiring skills connected with environmental protection while learning or improving their German. The scheme is funded by the Ministries responsible for Youth Affairs in the two countries involved.
The Civic Service Agency, which oversees youth volunteering missions, also organises eco-volunteering missions in partnership with environmental protection agencies (see Chapter 2 Voluntary activities. Stand-alone law). A number of such projects focus on raising inhabitants’ awareness of and lending support to their eco-responsible initiatives, as well as raising awareness on water-related environmental actions.
The Ministry initiatives to promote a more sustainable and eco-responsible way of life (aimed at young people) mainly deal with food systems and diet.
The Ministry of Agriculture runs various actions (campaigns, schemes, etc.) to promote sustainable agriculture and the consumption of organic and local produce. Some of these actions are run by the young people themselves or are intended specifically for them. Campaigns for a young audience to promote local and sustainable agriculture are thus organised on a regular basis. What’s more, anti-food waste campaigns, particularly visual campaigns are run in participating secondary schools.
The European “Fruit and Vegetables at School” and “Milk and Dairy products at School” programme
The Ministry of Food and the Ministry of National Education have been involved in the European “Fruit and Vegetables at School” and “Milk and Dairy Products at School” programme since 2016.
The aim of this European Union-funded programme is to encourage the distribution of quality products and to link this to educational action. The idea is to improve the eating habits of pupils and build their knowledge of agricultural and agrifood systems and products. The programme aims to reach the target of 50% quality or sustainable products in collective catering by 2022.
The Semaine du goût / Week of Taste
Learning about taste and “eating well” starts at a very young age. Each year, for one week, Taste Lessons take place at schools so as to teach children about taste and “eating well”. 250 000 children in pre-school and primary classes take part annually.
Many chefs and professionals from the agricultural and food sectors are also involved.
Since the creation of the Taste Lessons in 1990, they have reached more than 5 million pupils.
The “Canteen Pleasure” Charter
The Ministry of Agriculture’s “Pleasure in the Canteen” (Plaisir à la cantine) programme has existed since 2010. It is intended for all lower and upper secondary schools and is based on a Charter co-signed by the school principal, representatives of the local authority (region or municipality) and the DRAAF – Regional Directorate for Food, Agriculture and Forestry (Direction régionale de l’alimentation, de l’agriculture et de la forêt) – a deconcentrated directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture. The “Pleasure in the Canteen” Charter’s objectives include:
- “Breathing new life into canteens by acting on their food offer in order to make it more attractive while guaranteeing compliance with regulations on meal quality”;
- “Giving new meaning to the act of eating by combining its nutritional aspect with the aspects of taste, sociability and mealtime rituality”.
Students at schools that have signed the Charter also take part in cookery workshops run by their institution’s school catering professionals.
Teaching aids and resources
The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a range of teaching aids to help teachers create their own activities: getting nursery and primary school pupils acquainted with local and seasonal products and getting them to understand what eating is all about. Such tools are particularly useful in “taste classes” (classes des goûts), a sensory awakening programme. “Taste classes” are dispensed to primary school pupils by teachers or facilitators who have received special training. Resources employed in their training include a booklet entitled “Programme de formation des enseignants sur les classes du goût”(Training programme for taste class teachers).