You may be aware that there is currently a debate raging about school lunches in the United States. Books such as School Lunch Politics by historian Susan Levine or Lunch Wars by activist Amy Kalafa have been recently published; activism is gaining momentum; and even the first lady has taken on childhood diet as a main initiative.
For the most part, school lunches remain frozen mass-produced foods, almost never being actually prepared in the school kitchen. I know for myself that neither I nor any of my close friends would have dreamed of consuming what the cafeteria served up. As a result of that, however, I have little recollection of what the options actually were. I rather recall a particular smell that was always present in the lunchroom, and needless to say, did not motivate me to explore further.
While there are some regulations about nutritional balance, we found out from Jamie Oliver that french fries constitute a vegetable. That gives us a sense of the status quo that we are up against. Jamie Oliver is one of those who is asking why making food from scratch in the kitchen is so out of the realm of possibility. He takes us through some of the issues and obstacles surrounding school food in his TV series Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. When he proposed to use the school kitchens to make food and not just reheat it, it was seen as not only a threat but an absolute absurbity.
Another aspect of this questioning has involved looking to other countries to see how they feed their children at school. In future posts, I will be looking into and testing some of the foods that make up school lunch around the world (bento boxes are a favorite of mine!), but for now, I would like to direct you to a couple of other blogs that are worth looking at. One is called What’s For Lunch: What schoolchildren eat aroung the world, and can be found at:
Another reflects the current interest in French childrearing tactics. Karen Lebillon wrote a book called French Kids Eat Everything and has her own blog where she documents real French school lunch menus, blue cheese and all. She can be found at:
I’ll end with one of her recent posts which took us to St. Etienne, which happens to be where my husband’s family lives. She explains how St. Etienne schools are on track to be entirely organic by 2014, pretty impressive for a fairly low-income region. One of the June menus she lists is the following:
Main Course: Fish filet with sautéed organic vegetables and organic potatoes
Dairy: Organic camembert
Dessert: Organic compote (fruit sauce)
Sounds good to me.