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School Lunch in France Compared to School Lunch in America, Day 21

Ville de Paris
Creative Commons License photo credit: Crystian Cruz

Do you like the picture above?  It is a typical shot of what a French sign looks like on the school building.  In this case, the sign says:  “City of Paris Nursery School”.   In France, school usually begins around the age of 3 and is free in public schools.  School is not obligatory until your child is 6 years old, but most parents (99%) put their children in nursery school once they are 3 years old and are potty trained.  The nursery schools have a good reputation and the curriculum enforces social integration and the start of math, reading and writing.  These young children can eat in school, starting from the year “petit section” (1st year nursery school, 3 years old) or the parents can pick up the children to eat lunch at home.   After lunch is “sieste” nap time, for at least one hour.   The kids bring their doudous from home (security items such as their teddy bear or blankets) and sleep in beds at school.  These young children do eat the same food that is served for all the kids (big and small!)  in the cantine.  The children ARE hungry when they sit down in the cafeteria.  French children in Nursery school used to have a snack in the morning at school.  However, since a few years ago, there has been a movement in France to get rid of the morning snack or just have a snack that is lighter and served earlier.  For example, at my children’s school morning and afternoon snacks are fruit based; fruit juice, dried or fresh fruit.  With the new awareness of childhood obesity, the snack in French schools has taken a turn of either non existence, or very light.  This is to encourage a good appetite at noon!  Hungry=Eating well! 

Let’s take a look at today’s menu and picture if you think your 3-5 year old would enjoy eating from this French menu: 

Toms River, NJ

Served with Choice of 1 Main Dish, 2 Sides and a Half Pint of Milk

Hot Dog or Pizza Bagels

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

Fresh Fruit Salad


Pau, France

Served with slices of baguette and a glass of water

Grated Carrots Salad

Roast Beef with Pumpkin Puree

Mimolette (Orangy cheese From North of France) and Apricot Applesauce

So, do think your 3-5 year old would eat the cold carrot salad or the pumpkin puree?  These are very well-liked foods for French children.  “Salade de carrottes rape” (Grated carrot salad) is something that many kids are used to seeing as the first course.  And…and…and…the pumpkin puree is a big hit during the autumn months, when pumpkin is available.  Pumpkin puree is a cooked pumpkin that has been mixed to a soft consistency with melted butter and salt added to it.  Really, this dish is sweet..and yummy

and goes perfect with the roast beef.  And the Toms River menu..I know I mentioned this before, but I don’t understand why the chef/menu planner has put a dessert (crumble) for a side dish instead of a vegetable?  Followed with a fresh fruit for dessert?  Please explain to me if you know why.  Keep tuning in, the next menu is coming the day after tomorrow as Wednesdays are a day off for elementary school children in France.  But with the strikes that are happening here I don’t even know if the menu you see on your screen is even being served today!  Lots of kids have no school, teachers on strike, cantines closed, buses not running.  Super fun..!   

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

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