Organic celery salad and sautéed root vegetables, anyone? Amazing French Kids School Lunches…this week in Brest

Brest is one of France’s most important port cities, located on the rainy, windy tip of Brittany (in northwestern France). An important naval and military centre, it attracts few tourists; the city, heavily bombed during WW II, is a monument to 1950s modernism. But the coastline around Brest is stunning, and the ‘tall ships’ festival the largest in the world, and well worth seeing.

So, what are children eating this week in Brest? Some of the meals are three courses, and some are four, depending on how rich they are. Vegetables are served as the first course, and the main course always has a vegetable side dish. Organic food is served some days; French schools have set a target of 20% organic by 2013. Desserts are fresh fruit or yogurt most days, but there is a ‘sweet treat’ (vanilla and chocolate ice-cream ) on Friday; this is the typical pattern in French school lunches (in fact, it’s a National Ministry of Education regulation). The French approach is, after all, about moderation–not deprivation!

By the way, all meals are served with fresh baguette and water. No flavoured milk. No vending machines. No fast food. Food for thought.

Monday, April 19th

Organic celery salad
Couscous with vegetables
Vanilla yogurt

Tuesday, April 20th

Saucissons (like salami) and pickles
Roast turkey (certified) and sauteed root vegetables
Cheese: Brie
Dessert: a pear

Wednesday, April 21st
Organic green salad with corn
Fish casserole ‘marmite’ (stewed in a clay pot) with basmati rice
Cheese: Coulommiers
Dessert: Apricots in honey syrup

Thursday, April 22nd
Taboulé (bulgur with parsley, tomatoes, and onions)
Saute of beef with ‘sauce chasseur’ (certified), green and yellow beans
Organic plain yogurt
Dessert: Organic orange

Friday, April 23rd
Raw grated beet salad, with vinaigrette
Savoyard casserole with béchamel potatoes
Dessert: Vanilla and chocolate ice cream cone

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.

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