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Exploring European School Lunches for International Schools Meal Days

It's International Schools Meal Day, and what better way to celebrate than by embarking on a culinary journey across Europe? School lunches are more than just food; they're a window into each country's cultures and traditions. So, grab your virtual passports and explore what European students eat during their lunch breaks! 


United Kingdom: goodbye junk food, hello healthy school meals!

The UK has made significant strides in its school lunch game in recent years, thanks to the efforts of culinary crusaders like Jamie Oliver. Pupils consume an estimated 30% of their daily intake at school, making school meals an important part of their diet. Students can choose from various healthy options, including vegetarian lasagne and jam roly-poly. The meals are tasty and nutritious, proving that healthy can be delicious too! 



Italy: a slice of La Dolce Vita

In Italian schools, lunch menus celebrate the country's rich culinary heritage, focusing on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Pasta dishes, a cornerstone of Italian cuisine, are commonly served with tomato-based sauces, occasionally accompanied by meats or vegetables. Traditional pizza, another staple, is kept simple with toppings like tomato sauce and cheese.  

These main courses, along with vegetable sides like fresh salads and cooked seasonal veggies, align with the principles of the Mediterranean diet, emphasising balance and nutrition. Desserts are typically fresh fruit or a simple fruit tart, served after meals to encourage moderation. The rotating menus ensure a diverse nutrient intake, reflecting Italy's holistic approach to health and nutrition in school education. 



France: an elegant lunch 

In France, school lunches offer a window into the nation's reputation for fine dining. Each meal consists of several courses, starting with a light appetiser like a fresh salad, followed by a main course that includes staples such as ratatouille with fish or meat. After the main course, a cheese serving pays homage to France's diverse cheese culture. Finally, the meal concludes with a simple dessert such as a fruit tart or a slice of cake. These lunches offer approximately 40% of a student's daily caloric intake, an essential source of nutrition during the school day. 


Spain: a fiesta on a plate

Spain's school lunches showcase the country's culinary flair with dishes like paella, blending rice, vegetables, and often seafood or meat. The simple yet beloved tortilla Española (Spanish omelette), combining eggs and potatoes, is also a staple, accompanied by fresh salads and seasonal veggies. Desserts typically feature fresh fruits or occasional traditional sweets, reflecting a commitment to healthy eating. Regularly changing menus ensure a diverse nutrient intake and teach students about Spain's rich food traditions and the importance of a balanced diet. 



Scandinavia: healthy and heartwarming 

Scandinavian school lunches are a model of health and sustainability. Meals typically feature fish, a source of Omega-3, alongside various vegetables and whole grains, reflecting the region's focus on nutritious eating. The simplicity of these dishes highlights the emphasis on natural ingredients. Fresh fruits are a common dessert, aligning with the region's dedication to health-conscious choices. 

The School lunchtime offers a key opportunity to showcase unique flavours and educational experiences in every corner of Europe. As we observe International Schools Meal Day, let's embrace and celebrate the incredible diversity that characterises school meals across the continent and the impact of the meals served on pupils' learning experiences. This week is a perfect opportunity to appreciate how each country brings its distinct culinary touch.