Tag Archives: school lunch in France

FREE teacher’s resources

What’s for Lunch? was created for kids, their parents and teachers to initiate discussions about food and the way it connects to so many issues that we all care about. Things like the environment, poverty, hunger, our health and the health of our communities.

cafeteria-tray.pngBut reading the book is just the beginning. I hope families and educators will use it as a bouncing-off point for more in-depth discussions. That’s why, with the help of my publisher, Red Deer Press, I’ve created a FREE Teaching Guide for use in classrooms everywhere. The guide has questions aimed at initiating talk about what kids eat around the world, teaching ideas inspired by the book’s content, blacklines for easy printout—all downloadable here. (It’s about 5 MB.)

There are curriculum connections to health and nutrition, environmental sustainability, diversity, urban/rural connections, media education and much more. From the Pizza Pie game to Untangling the Food System to a more in-depth session we call The Lottery of Life, I hope these resources will inspire teachers to bring the ideas in What’s for Lunch? into their classroom. I’d love to hear how it goes. Email me (andrea at andreacurtis dot ca) and let me know!

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Filed under Kids and food, School feeding, School gardens, School kitchens, School lunch, What's for Lunch?

A very stinky cheese

Things have been rather busy here at What’s for Lunch? Between organizing Halloween costumes and putting the veggie patch to bed, promoting WFL and finishing up the edits on the adult book about food I’m cowriting (due out March 2013), there hasn’t been a lot of time for much else. So I thought I’d reach back into the vault to bring you an older post that offered a behind-the-scenes peak into the research project that was What’s for Lunch?

People who’ve read the book will know that in the pages devoted to France’s school lunch, there is mention of the cheese course (one of 4 courses!) offered daily to French schoolchildren. Knowing kids love to talk about stinky stuff, I decided to hunt down the smelliest French cheese.

 It turned out that I didn’t have to go far, since a scientist in the UK had already done the legwork.

He determined—using both human testers and something called an “electronic nose”—that Vieux Boulogne, made in northern France, is the world’s stinkiest cheese. In the same article—as well as many, many others I found—it was mentioned that it beat out another French cheese called Epoisses de Bourgogne, which the author claimed was so stinky it had been banned from public transportation! Continue reading

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Filed under Kids and food, School lunch, What's for Lunch?

School lunch around the world

I’ve been blogging about school lunch for more than two years now, so I figure it’s about time for a look back at the countries and the lunches I’ve explored around the world.

I’ve written a lot about Canada and the U.S. (check out the tag cloud if you’re interested in reading some of it), but I’ve also stopped on almost every other continent. Of course, there’s more—much more—in my book, What’s for Lunch? Watch for news about the upcoming publication date! Here’s a taste of some of the places I’ve visited on the blog:

On getting girls into the classroom with school meals in AFGHANISTAN.

What’s for Lunch in Brazil?

School lunch at the vanguard of ending poverty and hunger in BRAZIL (plus more here).

Lunch at a unique green school in BALI, INDONESIA.

Taste education and school meals in FRANCE.

From FINLAND with love: how school lunch contributes to producing some of the smartest kids in the world.

Continue reading

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What’s for lunch in France?

Whenever anyone sees the proofs of What’s for Lunch?, my upcoming book on how schoolchildren eat around the world (not a huge focus group, I admit, since the book hasn’t been published yet, but significant enough), they always say they wish they lived in France.

The French school lunch in the book is, indeed, delicious looking.

From What's for Lunch? Photograph copyright Yvonne Duivenvoorden

Maybe it’s the presentation: real cutlery, real plates. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a four-course balanced meal. Maybe it’s the cheese.

But the kids in France definitely have it made with school lunch. (The Italians don’t do too badly, either.)

A big part of the fact that French schoolchildren have such a well-conceived meal at school is the emphasis on food as culture in French society. Where else is “taste” such a celebrated sense?

Karen Le Billon knows this intimately. A Canadian author and teacher now based in Vancouver, her book, French Kids Eat Everything, is coming out this spring.

When she and her family moved to France (to her husband’s hometown) a couple of years ago,  she was forced, she writes, to “question some of her most basic assumptions about food and parenting. Gradually, she [began] to see the wisdom in a simple set of rules that govern French food education.”

Note the combination of food and education. Not words we see in such close proximity very much here at home.

In advance of the book’s publication, Le Billon is blogging regularly about French school lunches in various towns around the country. Seems last week in Nice, in the south of France (a town I, incidentally, consider the birthplace of my own love of food), the children were eating as well as ever. Here’s the menu according to Le Billon:


Celery salad with vinaigrette dressing
Fresh salmon filet, with ciboulette sauce
Organic rice
Cheese: Coulommiers
Dessert: Vanilla ice-cream.”

With meals like that I guess it’s no surprise that French children have some of the lowest rates of obesity in Europe. I’ll take the salmon filet, s’il vous plaît.


Filed under Kids and food, School kitchens, School lunch

Slow food take 2

This week, I sat down with my editor and looked at the first page proofs of What’s for Lunch? (my book on how schoolchildren eat around the world coming out next year). It looks fabulous (I’ll give a sneak peek sometime soon), and among other things, I was reminded (happily) that many countries around the world treat lunch as an occasion to be enjoyed and savoured rather than simply an unpleasant diversion from playtime (scroll down for this week’s post on the latter).

I thought it would be worth looking at how things work in some other countries:

•In France, 45 minutes is devoted to the eating part of lunch—plus playtime afterward.

•In Russia, teachers walk around the cafeteria making sure children eat using proper table manners (something they are taught in school!).

•In China, teachers also walk around and encourage kids to chew their food carefully and not be too noisy.

• According to a national survey called the School Health Policies and Practices Study,  American children have an average of 22.8 minutes after sitting down to eat their lunch at school (I’ve also heard 7 minutes as an average—it’s probably somewhere in between.)

•In England, the School Food Trust publishes case studies under the title “Meal Experience.” From introducing special “meal deals” to getting children to create place mats  to brighten the space to posting menus and having tasting sessions, many schools are working at making school dinners a social experience as well as a healthy eating one.

• In Japan, students serve the food and the whole class waits to eat until everyone is seated and served. Teachers and admin people also sit down with the children. (For more on kyushoku, see my posts here and here.) Before they begin, they chant Itadakimasu all together (one of many translations is “let’s eat!”—but it’s also a thank you to those who provided the meal).

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