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French School Lunch Compared to American School Lunch Day 30

Messy students
Creative Commons License photo credit: Micah Sittig

LAST DAY! It took awhile to get here, but finally here we are:  30 day look around American and French school lunch menus, with the first 23 days in Toms River, New Jersey and Pau, France…then we traveled west, north, south thru some well-known cities.  Are the menus the same quality as in Toms River or Pau?  Were there any surprises?  You will have to tune back and see.  Plus you can read recommendations on how to help your kids choose well-balanced school lunches in the cafeteria and what to put in that great healthy packed lunch.  But, without further delay…here  are the school lunch menus for Poitiers, France and Ames, Iowa!  (Two cities really in the heart of both countries!)


Hot Dog on a Bun or Ham & Cheese Sack Lunch

Baked Beans

Mandarin Orange Segments

Served with a half pint of milk



Lorraine, France theme (1)

Pâté Lorraine (2)

Potée Lorraine (3)

Cheese Carre L’Est (4)

Blueberry Tart

Served with slices of baguette and water to drink

(1) Lorraine is a region in the northeast of France, bordering Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

(2) Pâté is a type of minced meat spread that resembles a soft meatloaf.  It is spread on bread or served in a “croute” (cooked in oven with a hard crust).  The recipe for different types of pâté varies from region to region in France, but most of the time the pâté has liver added.  In Lorraine, the pâté is served in the crust, a crust similar to what you would see on the bottom of a quiche or tart.

(3)  Potée Lorraine is a casserole cooked on the stove filled with lots of different vegetables such as leeks, turnips, cabbage, carrots, onions.  The vegetables are cooked slowly with lard and a large type of  “saucisson” (a very big and fat hot dog).  There are pieces of smoked and unsmoked porc that are also put into the dish.  A very heavy meal, perfect for cold fall or winter weather.  The vegetables add a nice touch to balance the heaviness of the meats.

(4) Cheese Carre L’Est is a square cheese from Lorraine region (carre in French means square in English).  It is fabricated from cow’s milk and has a soft outside that is also eaten.

The meal served in Iowa…not appetizing, not healthy, not balanced and totally boring.  I am going to get in trouble saying this, but this is how I feel.  Hot dogs on an elementary menu scare me.

 They are a major choking food, even for elementary school children.  There is a movement to label hotdog packages this way, as a choking hazard.  I don’t think they should be served on any school lunch menu, even though I know they are also served on French school lunch menus and are called “saucisse.”  Really, choking foods are underestimated.  You can read one of my previous posts on this subject.  Also, do kids like baked beans?  In England they do..but do kids in Ames, Iowa enjoy eating baked beans?  Let me know those readers from Iowa!  Also, canned mandarin oranges, well…at least it is fruit.

For the menu in Poiters….it was great to see the Lorraine theme.  The school is trying to open up the children’s eyes culturally to new foods from different areas of France.  But, what a heavy menu…if your child is eating school lunch that day, I cannot imagine they could even start to be hungry for dinner.  There is too many animal fats and too large quantity of fat in that meal.  I am not at all a big promoter of low-fat foods, but to start off a meal with a high fat meat spread, move onto a main meal that has vegetables cooked in lard, then very fatty meats put in and cooked slowly…OMG!  With the dessert being blueberry tart.  Delicious, but again very heavy with the crust of the tart also being a high source of animal fats.  However, looking at where Lorraine is located, near Germany, the food is often quite heavy, filled with animal fats, “saucisse”, these very rich foods with links to German cuisine.  Difficult to find a light school lunch menu with origins from Lorraine, France (unless you want to serve the children a soup to start…probably not ideal).  There is a big difference in child and adult obesity rates in France, with northern regions having higher rates of obesity than in the southern regions of France.  Looking at the menu with the Lorraine theme I can see why!

A good travel around America and France…a good look at different school menus from different regions…a bit of an unscientific study of what our kids are eating in these two countries.  Very interesting…what do you think?  I am off to enjoy some cuisine in Paris and Italy over the weekend. So, please tune in next week so you can read some of my personal observations and add yours.  Plus an article on healthy packed lunches.  Maybe we can venture out to look at what other countries serve their children for lunch:  Italy, England, Scotland, Spain, Brasil???? Why not?!  Until then, Bon Appetit!

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2 Responses to French School Lunch Compared to American School Lunch Day 30

  1. Justin October 12, 2011 at 00:58 #

    You should note that lunch is the main meal in France, so these kids would only have a light dinner later, not another full meal.

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