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French School Lunch Compared to American School Lunch, Day 8

fry mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: EvelynGiggles

Hi again!  Welcome to Day 8  for a comparison between two school lunch menus from two different countries:  America and France. In America, we look at Toms River, New Jersey and in France a similar sized school district; Pau, France.   Here is the menu for September 24, 2010.  See my previous posts if you want to follow back from Day 1 to see the other menus.

Toms River, NJ

Choice of 1 main dish, 2 sides and served with a half pint of milk

Domino’s Pizza or Tossed Salad with Tuna

Green Peppers with Ranch Dip, Rosati Italian Ice


Pau, France

Served with slices of baguette and water

Wheat Grain Salad

Fish Gratin, Vichy Carrots (carrots cooked in mineral water and glazed with butter)


Here again are the links to Toms River, New Jersey school lunch menus, and Pau, France menus.  Every Friday is pizza day in the Toms River school lunch program, with the same  weekly menu:  Domino’s Pizza and Rosati Italian Ice.  As I mentioned yesterday, what is also interesting between the two systems is the WAY the food is served to the children.  First, the schools in France are much smaller than in America.  The school where my children go has 240 children, starting from 2 years old up to 11 years old.  This is common in France, some village schools there are even fewer children!  Also, school starts between 2-3 years old, when a child is potty trained and if there is space.  The menus you see for France are also the menus served to very young children.  There are no food substitutions for age!  Finally, because there are fewer children served, the food is brought over to the table and someone serves the children rather than the children going over or passing through a serving area.  There are three courses in France; the first course is served separately from the main course and dessert.  This is the same at French homes, thus a continuum at school.  I found the French menu quite interesting for today:  does anyone else know wheat grain salad?  It is good, resembles tabouli.  And the Vichy carrots, also yummy!  I have made those for my kids, simple yet delicious!  They love them and eat them up like candy!  Here is a link to a recipe if you are interested in trying them too.  But keep tuning in and leaving me your comments…we are only halfway through our one month of comparing French to American school lunch menus.  Still lots to see and comment on!  Have any of you tried Vichy carrots?  The mineral water that is usually used to cook the carrots comes from Vichy, a place in France known for its delicious water!

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7 Responses to French School Lunch Compared to American School Lunch, Day 8

  1. John R January 4, 2012 at 01:07 #

    Thank you for sharing this. I saw a clip off a news program last night about how the French don’t serve ketchup in schools. It actually blew my mind more than the kids were drinking water and eating lentils. I’m an American with a 3 year who is deeply concerned about what is being pass off as food here.

    • mbrighton January 4, 2012 at 10:05 # (article on new French laws for school lunch changes)
      Dear John, You should be concerned about American school lunches! While there has been improvement lately to provide healthier school lunches in America, there is a still a long way to go. Interesting the program you watched on how French don’t serve ketchup in schools…. This is only half true. Since September 30, 2011 the new laws for French school cantines include only serving ketchup with meals that “should” go with ketchup. See this link to an article above on these new laws.

      Ketchup continues to be served with french fries, as an example. So if there are french fries on the menu, there is ketchup available for the children to have with the fries. With the new law, french fries cannot be served more than once a week in French school lunch program. Prior to September 30th, ketchup was available everyday. French kids love ketchup though, I have seen kids putting ketchup on everything, including pasta!
      Water is always available at the French cantine and yes, lentils too. I believe the key is to encourage and help your child to taste different foods. Kudos to you and all parents too if healthy eating is a real priority at your house by providing well balanced meals at home. These great habits can only help them when they are going to school and are faced with the school lunch choices. As an example, on a typical Friday at school in Toms River, NJ. the menu choices for lunch are: Domino’s Pizza or Green Salad with Tuna. What would most children pick? Maybe if your child likes good healthy food they would sometimes pick the tuna salad…Good luck with your child’s food development choices! Keep reading all the pages on school lunches on the blog in regards to children’s taste and nutrition. Thanks much for commenting!

  2. christina September 29, 2010 at 02:19 #

    I looked at the Mantua School district(NJ) I could not believe that a school with such a high reputation would be serving “fast food”.

    Thursday, September 23
    All day
    Meatball Sandwich
    All day
    Small Pretzel
    All day
    Friday, September 24
    All day
    French Bread Pizza
    All day
    Small Salad
    Monday, September 27
    All day
    Bacon Cheeseburger
    All day
    French Fries
    Tuesday, September 28
    All day
    Hash Brown
    All day
    All day
    All day
    Wednesday, September 29
    All day
    Cheese & Turkey
    All day


    • mbrighton October 1, 2010 at 10:00 #

      Thanks for sharing the menus in your school district. Certaintly does look like fast food. Why are they serving pancakes for lunch? That seems a bit strange… There are some healthy options: some vegetables and a salad for the week. Where is the fruit? Is this the high school menu or elementary? Thanks for your input…I may try to expand and look at menus from other school districts in America and France, could be interesting to see what is served in different parts of each country. Mary


  1. French Recipes From A French School Lunch Program | brightonyourhealth - January 17, 2011

    […] CARROTS VICHY from Day 8 […]

  2. suzannesaxeroux - September 25, 2010

    RT @mbrighton66 French School Lunch Compared to American School Lunch, Day 8:

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  3. Suzanne Saxe-R, Ed.D - September 25, 2010

    RT @mbrighton66 French School Lunch Compared to American School Lunch, Day 8:

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