This week we’re in Saint-Julien-de-Genevois (population 5000), a small town in the Alps in south-eastern France, right on the border with Switzerland (in fact, it’s a suburb of Geneva–many French people choose to live here but commute into town every day).
Colorful menus (like this one) are sent home, posted on school doors, and available online, so everyone knows what the children are eating.
And it sounds pretty good (see that dessert? It’s on this weeks’ menu!).
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! For a full explanation of how school lunches are organized in France, click here.
Salad: Savory olive bread
Main: Sautéed chicken with green peas à la barigoule (a traditional sauce made with artichoke hearts)
Cheese/Dairy:Fromage blanc (a light, creamy cheese that is somewhat like a thick yogurt in consistency)
Dessert: Seasonal fruit
Salad: Cucumber with balkan yogurt sauce
Main: Roast pork with gravy and lentil stew
Cheese/Dairy:Reblochon de Savoie A traditional unpasteurized cheese from the Alps: richm creamy yellow, nutty-tasting, and a little stinky!
Dessert: Apple compote (sauce)
Salad: Green bean salad
Main: Sautéed veal with bulghur wheat
Cheese/Dairy: A mild, very light cheese (made with skim milk), also from the Rhône-Alpes region
Dessert: Seasonal fruit
Salad: Grated carrot salad (a French kids’ favorite)
Main: Filet of fish with lemon; ratatouille and rice
Dessert: Liégeois au chocolat The treat of the week! A rich chocolate ice cream topped with whipped cream, served in a tall glass. Say no more.
Salad: Cabbage salad with mayonnaise (sort of like cole slaw)
Main: Sautéed beef with sweet and sour sauce, and pasta
Cheese/Dairy: Organic yogurt with organic sugar
Dessert: Fresh fruit cocktail
Like many small towns and villages, Saint-Julien has decided to outsource its meals to a private company, which makes them locally. It’s a more cost-effective approach–particularly because health and hygiene regulations are so strict, making it prohibitively expensive for many small towns to upgrade kitchens, train staff, and follow the complicated healthy regulations (for example, every meal is sampled, and the samples are stored frozen for several weeks in case of any food poisoning). The issue of whether or not to keep the meals ‘in-house’ has caused much controversy in France in recent years, with no end in sight. I’ll be blogging next month about the pros and cons of ‘do-it-yourself’ versus ‘bring in the food company’ — a choice many schools in other countries are facing.
ps The grated carrot salad is on my blog, here.
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.