From my school days in the states (pre-school, elementary, junior high and high school), these American school lunch photos ring a bell - especially the mashed potatoes. As a kid, my mom always made my lunch (thanks mom!!) but sometimes I'd get some mashed potatoes off the cart where school lunch kids left the things they didn't want. And sometimes my mom let us buy pizza on pizza day (always an exciting moment). I remember the bright red sugar-laden popsicles, the gross dried out hamburgers and the containers of milk. Everything was pre-packaged and heated back up at the school. The lunch ladies simply plopped each container on a tray and voila - lunch. Thank god for my mom and her obsession with us eating good food (and thank goodness my parents could afford to feed us that way).
My first time eating in a French cafeteria I was shocked - the kids here are so lucky! Having now eaten in French cafeterias at both a lycée (high school) and university, I can say that the photos for France are pretty spot on. There are always healthy (veggies, fruits) and not-so-healthy choices (fries, desserts), but it's mostly real food, cooked onsite. Since reading the book Bringing Up Bébé, and after having spoken with French parents, I learned that they even have a special meeting (that parents can attend) for nursery schools to decide what will be served at their cafeterias each month! Mais oui, c'est vrai.
La cantine is a big deal in France - the newest thing is pushing for organic food in cafeterias for kids and in an effort to maintain public health, actual laws have been passed about the number of times fries can be served per week to children. A documentary, Vive la Cantine, was even created, with Chef Cyril Lignac on board, to improve food in la cantine in France.
It's a big deal here - and with obesity rates what the are in America, I wonder why it's not a bigger deal over there too.