Back to School: Italy vs USA school lunch

School is back in full swing and I finally have some me time. Last month I wrote about the differences between buying school supplies in Italy vs USA. Today, I want to continue the ‘Back to School’ comparison but this time we’re talking about LUNCH!

We’ve all seen those videos of lunches around the world, usually with beautifully photographed recreated meals…like this one:


But this is not a post about who’s got the better lunch. This is just a fun look at how things are different here than back home, and even from when I was a kid. A lot has changed in the 20+ years since I was in school and now that I’m in a different country, it’s even more of a change.


menu take from my hometown’s school website

I honestly don’t remember getting a choice of food in Elementary school. That was something that was usually done in Jr. High or High School, but I totally loved Friday cause it was Pizza day! Today is Wednesday, October 4th and here’s what my niece and nephew are having : Chicken Nuggets, Mashed Potatoes w/Country Gravy, Peas, Wheat roll & fruit. I am however confused on what the crap is a Ketchup cup!!  (kidding.. I’m guessing it’s for the nuggets?!?)

UPDATED  16, September, 2018

*I have yet to hear any compliments about the food in school. In fact, I was talking to my mom last week and she mentioned going to my niece’s school for Grandparent’s Day. They took Chik-fil-A and said she wouldn’t touch the food at the school. I don’t know if they have tried it in the past or if they just go by what my niece says.

Let’s take a look at what my kiddos are having today:

Miss E & Miss C are in the Scuola d’Infanzia aka Nursery School, aka Pre School. They have a different menu than the big kids schools. Passato di cici ed erbette con ditalini. It’s essentially a creamy Chickpea soup with Ditalini pasta. Similar to this…

The second course is Petto di Tacchino all pizzaiola (Turkey breast with tomato sauce), mashed potatoes and fruit for dessert.  For their afternoon snack, they’ll have Cantaloupe or Watermelon.

I often joke about wanting to eat at the school because they eat so well. The Pre Schools have an onsite cook so everything is made from scratch. Of course this also includes kids with allergies and dietary needs. They have a separate menu and are well taken care of. Unfortunately, parents/grandparents are not allowed to come on school grounds to eat BUT a parent can sign up to be a Quality Control Inspector. They go to the school every so often to test the food to make sure everything is ok.


Menu Regionale la Liguria (Regional menu from Liguria)

Linguine al pesto fagiolini e patate (Linguine with green beans and potato pesto sauce),

Torta salata di zucchine (zucchini quiche),

Insalate verde, carote & peperoni (green salad w/carrots and bell peppers), mix di frutta (mixed fruit)

My Second grader happily eats her lunch. Last year was the first time the city voted to let children bring lunch to school. Yes. That means up until last year, everyone ate school lunch OR went home for lunch.  This is somewhat difficult for working parents because if their kid didn’t like the food and didn’t eat, it was money in the trash. One parent told me that she “threw away” 700euros because her daughter just could not stomach the food anymore.

Another parent explained to me that because of the time schedule they eat, the smaller kids get the food nice and hot. The older they are, the longer they wait and therefore by the time the 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders go, it’s lukewarm and has been sitting out. Food for Elementary & Middle schools come from a Central Cafeteria so it’s all packaged and shipped to the schools every day. High Schools are done with school by 1ish so they eat out or at home.

I have been thinking about letting Miss V take lunch to school but then I would have to make something every day. Some parents are getting up at 6am and cooking fresh food, while others will sent leftovers from dinner the night before. Growing up, I took sandwiches almost everyday and I turned out ok… but OH NO!! These Italians can’t possibly do that. Seriously.. a mom last year actually made that statement. However, if the statement about about lunch scheduling is true then we may have to revisit the issue next year.

What are you kids having for lunch at school? Tell me in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Back to School: Italy vs USA school lunch

  1. Thank you for making this! I’m currently writing a essay about the similarities and differences between Italian and American lunches and this article really helped.


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