This week’s post is near and dear to my heart. The menu is from the small school that my older daughter attended when we were living in France for a year, in a little seaside village in Brittany. It was her first time, ever, going to school–which starts at 3 in France (my daughter was 4 at the time, but had only gone to preschool back home).
This brings back lots of lovely (and funny) memories of how she learned to eat like the other French kids, educating me in the process! I still remember how astounded I was that the kids ate a four-course lunch, and that milk wasn’t served (the kids drink water, the French preferring to meet dairy requirements through serving cheese as the traditional third course). I’m feeling quite nostalgic…
The meals below are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain) and water. No flavoured milk. No fast food. No ketchup (except on rare occasions when dishes with which it is traditionally eaten–like french fries–are served). No vending machines in the schools (there’s a national ban). Food for thought.
Monday March 12th
Grated carrot salad
Apricot croisillon (a cross between a pastry and a pie)
Tuesday March 13th
Vegetable soup (potage)
Couscous with merguez sausage and chicken
Wednesday March 14th
Pasta salad with surimi (Japanese-style fish)
Endives with ham
Thursday March 15th
Veal scallop with green peas
Friday March 16th
Leafy greens salad, with ham and gruyère cheese (the French often eat this salad combo)
Fish with broccoli gratin casserole
Ile flottante (typically a meringue puff floating on top of a raspberry or strawberry fruit sauce)
The village, Pleneuf, has only a few thousand inhabitants, with a mix of farming families, fishermen, shopkeepers, and people who work in the seasonal summer tourist industry. But they still have a ‘central kitchen’ (cuisine centrale), where meals are made for the kids at the school, but also the retirement home, and the cafeteria at the Town Hall. Like elsewhere in France, parents pay according to their means, on a sliding scale (and they’re sometimes subsidized on top of that from the local property tax revenues that the Town Hall raises). This is the only way that most small communities could afford to supply these lunches, as there are no national lunch programs (unlike in the US). Often, parent volunteers help out with the committee overseeing the school lunches. It’s a priority, so people make it happen. Food for thought.
This blog post is part of my French Kids School Lunch Project. Every week, I post the school lunch menus from a different village or town in France, where three-course, freshly-prepared hot lunches are provided to over 6 million children in the public school system every day. These meals cost, on average, $3 per child per day (and prices for low-income families are subsidised). My hope is that these menus (together with my other blog posts about the French approach to kid’s food) will spark a conversation about what children CAN eat, and how we can do better at educating them to eat well.