Monday, June 15, 2009

What do we teach in the school cafeteria?

At School Lunch Talk there is an interesting article about how school lunch is approached in France. There, food is part of a larger picture that includes making good choices, proper eating habits and good manners. The author, Deborah Lahmann, suggests that this is a way to use lunch time as an educational tool for nutrition, preparation techniques and cultural heritage whereas the typical American approach is only to use school lunch as a re-fueling time before getting back to class. She advocates making food a higher priority, and taking advantage of the cafeteria as another classroom.
A later entry deals with Italy where there is a law that mandates schools and other institutions to use local organic products where possible and to comply with the National Institute of Nutrition. Instead of parents advocating, the state is mandating. An important part of this is that the government is willing to pay, like they are in France, and the price of lunches is subsidized by the city. In fact they pay at least half the cost of every lunch, and even more if the students come from poorer economic backgrounds. Compare that to the US where the government pays much less and the total spent on lunches is significantly less.