Note: Don’t miss the menu below for how French children are eating this week.
National School Lunch Week In America
It is National School Lunch Week in America. Two years ago here on BrightonYourHealth, we focused a lot of energy on this topic and fueled the public’s interest by providing a successful analysis comparing thirty days of typical school menus in France to America (interested in seeing these articles click on category: school lunch on top of this page). Most of the menu days were taken from the large school district in my hometown of Toms River, New Jersey and compared to an equally large district of my current town of Pau, France. The comparison was to observe how school lunch worked in other countries, France in particular, which has a well-known and respected school lunch program. My goal back in 2010 was to look at ways that we as parents, caregivers, teachers and all those concerned could improve and support what was happening with child nutrition, particularly in America-a country with childhood obesity statistics that have skyrocketed.
From those beginning articles readers were interested in knowing more and I tried to find productive ways and suggestions on how you could: support your school and the movement for better school lunches, how to pack healthy school lunches from home and how to use your homes as a good health resource for your child to make the healthiest food choices in school.
Has there been progress on the school lunch program?
If you remember in 2010 there was much controversy on what we were feeding our kids at school. Now here we are in 2012, things are moving in the right direction: federal laws have passed both in America and France to mandate to healthier food dishes and menus on all public school lunch menus in both countries. But realistically, have things really gotten better? We had the pink slime scare, there is much in the news that the new American menus are too healthy, too tasteless. I also read there is twice as much school food waste in the American school lunch program compared to two years ago. Is this just an adjustment period to positive change? Are things going to settle down and kids start to eat what is on their lunch tray and leave the cafeteria full and satiated?
Are French kids still eating gizzards and radish as part of the French school gourmet lunch program?
In collaboration with School Lunch Week, I thought it would important to revisit school lunch menus and note how the new legislation changed school lunch menus from two years ago. Over the next days, I want to check-in and let you know how my former hometown of Toms River, New Jersey is doing and see if they have made some improvements from their dismal (in my opinion) menus that I wrote about two years earlier. Wouldn’t it be fun also to see how Pau’s menus are doing? Are they still serving gizzards and radishes to three-year-olds? I would love to know, maybe you would too, so I will see what is on the school lunch menu in Pau.
Combining taste and health could be the right answer
But to end on the positive, today’s article is a call to action to those planning school menus to show some examples of healthy school lunch food choices that are also full of taste. Do you believe, like me, that it is possible to meet a child’s health and taste compromise? It may take efforts and creativity to improve the school lunch menu where you live. Perhaps we cannot meet taste and health goals on a daily dish basis, but why not, as we dietitians promote, look at the overall weekly plan and feel we have made steps forward towards giving our children healthy school lunch meal options that also taste good.
A week school lunch menu for Pau, France
Here is Pau, France menus for this week, October 15-19th, combining creative menu planning, taste and health.
Note: Each meal is served with water and slices of baguette.
|Lundi(Monday) 15||Mardi (Tuesday) 16||Jeudi (Thursday)18||Vendredi (Friday) 19|
|Rôti de dinde sauce louisiane(Roast turkey with Louisiana sauce)||Carotte râpée vinaigrette olive / citron(Shredded carrot salad with olive and lemon vinaigrette)||Salade verte et pignons(Green salad with pine nuts)||Riz Maïs Poivrons(Rice, Corn, Peppers)|
|Trio de légumes Romanesco et Riz safrané(Three types of Italian style vegetables and saffron rice)||Emincé de veau bergeracquoise(Shredded Veal Bergerac style (region near Pau)||Parmentier de canard (Casserole of duck, mashed potatoes, shredded nuts)||Dés de saumon sce béarnaise *(Pieces of salmon with bearnaise sauce)|
|Chèvre noix noisette *(Goat cheese with walnuts and hazelnuts)||Pomme “Roty”(Either roasted potato or apple)||Crème dessert caramel(Caramel cream dessert)||Haricot beurre(Butter beans)|
|Raisin(Grapes)Pain Spécial(Special Bread)||Yaourt fermier aux fruits fabriqué à Poueyferré(Farm fresh yogurt with fruits manufactured in Poueyferre)||Tourte myrtille & crème anglaise(Blueberry pie with English cream)Pâtisserie de fabrication artisanale(Dessert homemade by baker)|
I will make a disclaimer: this week in France, ironically, is the “Semaine du Gout” the 23rd edition of celebrating taste and taste education. The menus are cooked with a special touch using local products and discovery menus.
Jamie Oliver couldn’t do better, could he?
Jamie Oliver would be proud to see this menu on every kids’ school lunch tray. Would your children eat it? If they were raised with the philosophy of tasting everything that is put in front of them at the table, if they are hungry when they sit down at the lunch cafeteria able, if they are accustomed to eating a variety of foods; then I think it would be a big success for everyone. Note that there is no school on Wednesdays in French primary schools, the reason for no menu on October 17th.
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