I normally try to stay up to date with my American news and lately have been noticing a bit of buzz about the school lunches that I can't help but read. After bringing my lunch to school (signed napkins by mom and all!) for most of elementary school, and then buying from the special cart (pizza pizza pizza) in junior high and high school, I barely even remember what an American school lunch is made up of, except that no one really wanted it. Nachos, pizza, burritos - these are the sort of things I remember giving up my 'special cart' meal or sack lunch for. Here, since I help the babies eat (aka I feed them), I get a free school lunch as a payback. On the whole, I would say that the school lunch here is drastically different (dramatically more healthy) than anything I remember from K-12.
Not knowing much about the topic beforehand, my online reading led me to learn that the Deparment of Agriculture will start setting calorie limits for school lunches starting next year. Along with that, Federal Officials will be upping the requirements for veggies and fruit served to at least 3/4 cups and 1/2 cup respectivley. Whole milk will be replaced by fat free milk and by 2015 all grains will need to be whole-grain. While that all sounds amazing - I have also learned that somehow schools have been counting the tomato sauce on pizza as a veggie along with the potatoes of french fries. Not exactly what the Government is going for I doubt.
Schools nationwide are up in arms about the cost this will lay on thier budgets, but it seems like a necessary measure when you take into account that over 15% of children are obese. While home meals make a big difference, school meals should provide a healthy and balanced meal as well. After having unbalanced meals for so long it seems, the US is finding it hard to get back into the healthy swing of things, but seeing a different kind of school lunch every day, I know that it is possible. The even more unbelievable thing and something that educators doubt is that, yes the kids really do eat it!
Each month, like in the States, we recieve a menu of the meals for the month. There is always a first course, followed by a meat or fish, and dessert. While not listed on the menu, salad and fresh bread are always available as well. The food service company that services our school is called Askora and on thier website they claim that each school lunch only contains 35% of the daily recommended calorie count to combat youth obesity. Below are a few of the lunches I dined on this month:
- Roasted potatoes with peas
- Spanish tortilla (omelet)
- White or Red beans or Lentils
- White rice mixed with veggies and egg
- Cod fish
- Pork with mushrooms
- Roasted Hake fish with red peppers
- Chicken breast with mushrooms
- Fresh fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear, mandarins, etc)
- Plain yogurt with sugar added
- Soy yogurt
- Chocolate brownie (only served once a month)
PHOTO: In this photo you can see one of my lunches. Although not presented so beautifully, it was pretty tasty - mixed salad topped with oil and vinegar, red beans, breaded hake fish with topping and for dessert some pineapple slices and a plain yogurt.
Granted, there are days that the kitchen serves someting I just don't want to eat - hot dogs, deviled eggs and pig's head (yea people eat that here...ewwww) but on the whole the lunch is quite impressive.
Seeing as the students and teachers eat the same thing it has to be
somewhat tasty. I have heard of schools that have much better food
though - even some with cous cous! Water is the only drink offered with lunch. There are no soda machines or vending machines at all.
Overall, having not eaten school lunch since I was a school girl, I can honestly say I don't hate having to eat it that much, which could be quite shocking to hear - an adult who enjoys the school lunch! Go figure!