What did your kids eat for lunch today? Here’s what kids ate at school in Lyons…,


What did your children eat for lunch today? If you were living in France, they would have eaten a healthy four-course hot lunch, designed by nutritionists and prepared by in-school cooks.


Here’s today’s actual school lunch menu for the public schools in the French town of Lyons (no, I am not making this up):

~ Melon
~ Organic spinach-stuffed omelette, topped with croutons and bechamel sauce
~ Emmental Cheese
~ Organic applesauce

All over France, children sit down every day to delicious, inexpensive meals (low-income families pay as little as $1 per child). Learning how to eat well is a central part of their education.

Meanwhile, North American kids often end up filling up on sugary and salty snack foods, which have lots of negative effects on their health and learning ability.

What’s the healthiest lunch you could imagine sending your child to school with? And would they actually eat it?

What French School Kids are Eating For Lunch….this week in Paris

Paris, France’s biggest city, is an appropriate place to start our tour of French school lunch programs, which–like everywhere in France–are called ‘school restaurants’ (restauration scolaire‘ (which tells you a lot about how the French view them).

The Parisian municipal government oversees the provision of food to over 160,000 students at 719 public schools, including 339 elementary schools and 320 preschools. The cost? Subsidized meal plans (according to which families pay according to their income) mean that low-income families pay as little as 18 cents per meal (middle-income families pay $3 per meal, and the very wealthiest families pay nearly $7).

Here’s a sample menu from the 18th ‘arrondissement’, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Paris, where many families would be paying the lowest tariffs for their meals. Note that they have a fully organic meal once a week–at the same price.

Monday, September 5th
Fresh tomato salad
Beef charolais with roasted apples
Chocolate flan with candied strawberry syrup

Tuesday, September 6th
Plain omelette
Stewed lentils
White beans with tomato sauce
Edam and mountain cheese (from southern France’s Pyrenees)
Fresh fruit

Wednesday, September 7th
Fresh greens salad with cubed mimolette cheese and rustic mustard vinaigrette
Roast turkey with onion gravy
Green peas, stewed with aromatic herbs
Belgian waffles

Thursday, September 8th
Celery remoulade (this is celery root with a mayonnaise-based dressing)
Fish: Filet of hake with Basque sauce
Rice or bulghur
Cheese: Brie and Coulommiers
Ile flottante (meringue with fruit sauce)

Friday, September 9th
Weekly Organic Meal
Macaroni salad
Beef ‘springtime’ saute
Carrots with parsley
Plain yogurt
Fresh fruit

I don’t know about you, but reading these menus makes me slightly envious. What a wonderful education to be giving children: to love real food in all its variety. Later this year, I’ll blog about some of the things French schools do in the classroom to support kids emerging love of food.

Bon Appetit!