When the kids are at school, they of course need to eat a proper lunch, nothing is good enough for the gourmet and proud French. And I must admit that the menus for the kids look quite tempting. I think we back in Denmark could learn a bit from France on this area. The families of course have to pay for the lunches, but the expense fully depends on the income. So the poorest families are certain that their kids get at least one good and healthy meal every day.
The school system in France is like the Danish in many areas, but there are some marked differences which I've noticed. My daughter just started in "maternelle" which is equivalent to kinder-garden. They start when they're three. The first year is optional and in many schools you can choose between half day and full day school.
The day typically starts around half past nine and ends around four. Wednesday is a school free day. The schools are closed. They got that idea some years ago, that the kids learn better if they have a break in the middle of the week. Last year they went to school on Saturday mornings, but that has changed this year.
There are after-school activities for the children with working parents, and the kids can stay until around 7 pm. This is also where they are on Wednesdays if they're not with family or in daycare. Those families who has a stay-home parent, the children have to go home during lunch break. It's obvious that the break is rather long compared to Danish standards. No more flat warm sandwiches that has to be eaten in 10 minutes here.
So, how does a menu look like? We received a menu the first day of school and it covers 8 weeks of lunches, just up to their first holiday by the end of October, which lasts two weeks! (The Christmas holiday is two weeks, so is the winter holidays and the spring vacation. The summer holidays starts in July and the school in September. I'm all envious.)
There is everything you can imagine on the menu. Coleslaw, fish, beans, salad, cheese, cakes, palm hearts, vegetables and fruit, poultry, roast, chops, ice cream, yoghurt and you name it. One thing I in particular notice is that it's a healthy menu. There are lots of greens and fruit, good milk products, interesting meat dishes, cheeses, salads, rice, potatoes an so on. It is a balanced lunch, so the sweet dessert which the French can't live without, is in its place. The kids have gotten their portion of healthy food prior.
Not bad, I'm getting all hungry, and admittedly, there are things on that menu that I have no idea about. I'm certain my daughter will tell me all about it though.