Rethinking school lunches

Kevin Yarr
By Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca

In a move towards teaching healthy eating habits, deep fryers are coming out of schools on P.E.I., but surely we could go a step further than this.

When my daughter brings home her weekly food order, there are few surprises on the menu: potato wedges, chicken strips, pizza. There is no roast pork with apples, ratatouille, zucchini flan. Apart from ice cream on Fridays, there is no dessert on the menu at all: no chocolate mousse or even a fruit compote.

What planet am I on, you may be wondering. I'm not on a different planet at all, but I am in a different country: France.

It is no secret that the French care about food, but this is not something that is encoded in their genetics. It is taught. And one of the ways it is taught is in the schools, where it is not unusual for kids to sit down to a proper meal at lunchtime with their teacher. They are not only learning about different foods, but about table etiquette and the value of sitting down to a meal with friends.

This is a stark contrast to my daughter's experience. She gets a few minutes to cram back pizza or a sandwich from home before being rushed out to the playground.

Not that playground time is a bad thing, but the meal becomes a very practical event in this scenario. Fuel up and get outside!

In some cases, the French menu is too expensive to be practical; there just aren't sufficient kitchen facilities. But in others, it actually wouldn't be any more expensive to serve up a decent meal, and stop catering to what we believe the children want, and pushing them out the door.

What would you like to see your kids eating at school at lunchtime?