Cookus Interruptus has begun work on the CPPW (Communities Putting Prevention to Work) grant creating workshops to train school food service workers on the wonders of whole foods cooking. Margaret Dam RD, Child Nutrition Coordinator for Auburn School District is overseeing the grant. Carol White, MS, RD is busy writing sections of the workbook needed for the project and we have lined up a stellar group of teachers to give the workshops.
As I work on this project, I am always mindful of how handcuffed the system is by lack of funds. In King County the budget for school lunch is about $2.75 per child per lunch. About 50% of that goes to labor leaving only around $1.37 for food. But lack of funding doesn’t excuse everything.
The French have a different take on school lunch: ” The variety on the menus is astonishing: no single meal is repeated over the 32 school days in the period, and every meal includes an hors d’oeuvre, salad, main course, cheese plate and dessert.” Mary Brighton is a US mom living in Paris who writes the blog brightonyourhealth. She’s been comparing French school lunches to a fare served at a school in New Jersey for a number of days. Here’s a sample from Mary’s blog:
Toms River, NJ
Choice of 1 main dish, 2 sides and served with a half pint of milk
Baked Ziti with Meatballs or Macaroni and Cheese
Potato Wedges and Applesauce
Served with slices of baguette and water
Turkey Pieces with Sweet and Sour Sauce
Rice with Diced Vegetables “Brunoise”
Creamy Sheep Cheese and an Apple
You might think that they have a great deal more $ to spend on each school lunch. According to a recent video on CBS news (worth a watch) about $5 per child is budgeted in Parisian schools, but in southern France one chef is creating gourmet feasts for ½ that – an amount comparable to King County.
The French feel it is important to train young children to appreciate good food. Gourmet lunches made from fresh food begin in nursery school. Lunch time in a French school is generally longer than in the US so that the children can eat at a leisurely pace and enjoy the company of their friends. Imagine that.