It is the “rentree” for both sides of the big pond…Rentree meaning return to school and all that comes with it; including that click in the mind of the kids and parents that we are now in “work zone” again, that vacation is now finished. Included in the rentree is return to school lunches and in France, the two-hour lunch breaks that children get, either to eat at home or at school. In America all the kids eat at school, but you do have a choice to bring your own packed lunch rather than eat what is on the school cafeteria menu. In France, bringing a packed lunch is not allowed, so you either eat what is on the menu or go hungry! I thought it would be very interesting to readers to do an unscientific, yet real comparison between what is served at a French primary public school compared to the same size American elementary public school.
My oldest child, as a new French middle school attendee, came home after her first day of eating at school and raved on how wonderful, delicious and filling the school lunch was. After a choice of different starters (most of which had vegetables or fresh food in it), this continued with chicken nuggets, french fries, side of vegetables and finally onto dessert: fruit and a piece of cheese. Water served and bread on the side too.
I took a quick look in the evening on what was served for school lunch in a typical public school lunch program, in a school district in the center of Pennsylvania, where my two nephews go to school. At first glance it looked fine, and I was actually quite surprised on how “American” it looked…with hamburgers, pizza, hotdogs on the menu. I know that these type of foods are what kids like to eat, so there is a delicate line in serving meals that the kids like and at the same time are healthy choices. The costs are about the same between the school lunches in Pau and in typical public school in Pennsylvania…but the menu? Quite different.
So, I thought of an idea, something fun and perhaps interesting for readers. Why not compare school lunch menus from two public schools, one in America and one in France? I grew up in Toms River, NJ which has a population similar to where I live now, in Pau, France. So, I’ve decided to look at lunches from these two elementary school programs, Toms River, NJ and Pau, France. For one month, I will post daily both menus and compare these two school lunches choices. This will be a bit of a subjective comparison, looking at diversity of ingredients, fat content, freshness, and any other tidbits that shout out to me. At the end of the month…well, a bit of a discourse/conclusion of differences and similarities between the two countries. Finally, at the end there will be some suggestions on healthy packed lunches you could prepare for your children. So, Please , keep reading! The first installment is coming very soon!