My ‘French Kids’ School Lunch Project’ is back by popular demand! (For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.)
The menu below is for the children in kindergarten; in France, children begin at the age of 2 and a half or 3 (whenever they are toilet trained), and attend kindergarten for three years before starting school at the age of 6. From the age of 4 onwards, they spend a full day at school (typically 8 to 5 pm)–so lunch is definitely an important meal. In fact, it’s supposed to be the biggest meal of the day for French children.
Keep in mind that children can’t bring lunch from home (unless they have allergies), and that they are all expected to taste whatever is served–even if they don’t eat it. Food education–introducing children to a wide variety of flavors and tastes–starts right from the early years!
As usual, the meals follow a four course structure: vegetable starter; main dish with vegetable side; cheese course; dessert. All meals are served with fresh baguette (eaten plain, usually one piece per child!) and water. No flavoured milk, juice, sports drinks, or pop. No vending machines. No fast food or junk food. Food for thought!
Monday, September 10th
Salad: Cold tomato potage soup
Main: Chicken sausage with lentils
Dessert: A pear
Tuesday, September 11th
Salad: Macedonian salad with hard-boiled eggs
Main: Minced chicken with ‘sauce suprême’ and pasta
Cheese/Dairy: Fromage blanc (somewhat like Greek yogurt)
Dessert: Fruit compote (sauce)
Wednesday, September 12th
Main: Vegetable goulash with carrots ‘vichy’ style
Cheese/Dairy: Mini Babybel (a miniature cheese much like Gouda, in an individual red wrapper that kids tend to love)
Dessert: Apple pie
Thursday, September 13th
Salad: Organic grated carrots
Main: Minced beef tongue with spicy sauce and vegetable puree
Friday, September 14th
Salad: Tomatoes with vinaigrette
Main: Filet of hake with cream sauce and bulghur
Dessert: Abricotine (a flaky fruit-filled pastry)
Now, how many of these dishes would your kids have tasted (much less eaten) when they were in kindergarten?
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.