Back for the last downspin on comparing what school lunch menus are like in America versus France. A hot topic, both in the news and on First Lady Michelle Obama’s agenda to make school lunch meals in America healthier. Good for her…she is right…we need to do something! Here is a recent article in the New York Times describing what has been written here in this blog for the last couple months: kids are our future; we need to feed them well in school; and we need to adjust some of these school lunch menus to be more balanced, healthier, diverse and fresh. We looked at Toms River, New Jersey school lunch programs over the first 23 lunch days, jumped up to Boston and over to the other side to Seattle…and now to: Columbus, Ohio! Wait until you see, what a selection, I’m inspired! These kids that eat in Columbus, well it is like being at a restaurant! This menu is compared to one in Montpellier, France; a large city located in Southcentral France. So, without further Adieu, here are the menus:
CHOICE OF: Ham & Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
Swiss Bacon Burger with Fries
Chicken BLT Salad or Turkey Bacon Club Wrap with Chips
Served with Selection of Fruits and Vegetables, Skim or 1% Chocolate Milk
Slice of Tomme Cheese, Apricot Tart
Feeling a bit better looking at this American school lunch program. You can really see that some schools make real efforts to provide choices to the kids; some may not be the “healthiest” choices, but overall…encouraging. I am sure that any child eating from this menu could find something they like. Yes, it looks like Columbus, Ohio makes a great effort to get kids interested in eating…offering the choices a bit like in a restaurant…different stations to walk to (Deli, Grill, Main Event and From the Garden) and in the “Garden” section fruits and vegetables. I wonder how these veggies are prepared…are they local? Are they whole foods like in Seattle (this means raw and fresh)? And lastly, do the children select fruits and vegetables to put on their tray? Do they head off to the same stations everyday or do the kids try to vary what they eat?
The city in France…Montpellier…a city considered one of the best places to live in France because of its climate (wonderful weather!), location (near Spain, halfway between the ocean and the Alpes, the student environment (big universities city) and finally the cuisine (Southern France)…Yet, although the menu is balanced and varied, it doesn’t seem to have the extra “splash” that the menu in Pau seemed to have. The usual French-type menu, with a fresh food starter, a main meal, vegetable, a slice of cheese and dessert. I also looked at the school lunch menu in Montpellier for the week, it is about the same..a typical French menu…just that. Pau seems to add those funky twists such as Gizzard salad, Hungarian Goulash, Savory Donuts with White Radish. Not so much in Montpellier…but then again, there is that balance between trying to offer foods that children will like and eat..and opening up their palate to trying new things. Having too many “funky” items on kids menus can also turn them away from eating at the school cafeteria. So, Montpellier is just that typical French school lunch menu, nothing more. Tune back tomorrow..there are more surprises in store! If your child eats particularly well at their school cafeteria, if the school lunch menu is particularly good or bad…comment or contact me, would love to publish some of these ‘outside’ the norm stories.