Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Imagine School Lunch in Paris

What do other countries do about school food?

TIME magazine recently published the account of an American living in Paris who discovered that even where her pre-schooler is concerned, the French take their school meals quite seriously.

"In a country where con artists and adulterers are tolerated, the laws governing meals are sacrosanct and are drummed into children before they can even hold a knife," she writes. "The French don't need their First Lady to plant a vegetable garden at the Élysée Palace to encourage good eating habits. They already know the rules: sit down and take your time, because food is serious business."

Every meal includes an hors d'oeuvre, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert. The schools even give suggestions for what to serve for dinner at home to compliment school lunch.

Meanwhile, at School Lunch Talk, writer Deborah Lehmann describes lunch in one Paris school district: cucumbers with garlic and fine herbs; Basque chicken thigh with herbs, red and green bell peppers and olive oil; couscous; organic yogurt and an apple. For snack, they had organic bread, butter, hot chocolate and fruit.

In elementary school, the lunches are served in a restaurant scolaire "where furniture, silverware and sound level are just as important as the food itself." In that Parisian district, the schools spend $8.23 to produce lunch. Compare that to the $2.68 per meal subsidy our federal meal program allots.


  1. And, because they didn't load up the chicken with an HFCS sauce, they have some sugar calories leftover for hot chocolate (a much better use of sugar!!).

  2. School Lunch Talk (which changed its name from "F is for French Fry" for reasons I can't fathom) did a whole series of "Country Watch" entries. I learned a ton from them.