Wednesday, July 11, 2012

5.40€ a meal in the school canteen??

We received the enrollment package from the nursery school and I was surprised at the price for the lunch meal.

5.40€ a meal for a kid of three years old? That's insane! If we subscribe annually the price will drop to around 4.40€ a meal but still it is expensive. A Big Mac here cost around 3.50€ if you want to calculate the Big Mac Index to have an idea of the purchasing power.

And, you can not bring your own lunch box and eat in the canteen. Kids have to either go home for their lunch or eat at the school canteen.

To take the kid home, one parent has to pick her up the latest 11.45am and the school only resume at 1.30pm. So for a working parent, he or she has to take at least 1 hour and 45 minutes lunch break. That's impossible in our case.

I heard that public schools charge cheaper rate as they are subsidized by the government. That's why a lot of parents choose to send their kids to public schools.

There were some reports about foods in school canteen in the recent years as the government required the school authorities to provide balance meals. For example they should reduce the serving of French fries and encourage the students to consume more vegetables and fruits. I heard that a meal consists of entry, main course, cheese, salade and dessert just like what the adults are having. Since Aelig is not a big eater, I'm not sure she could finish everything.

One thing I don't understand is that the government does subsidize students at higher education (universities & private schools). I was paying 2.70€ a meal when I studied in the local university. It just doesn't make sense that my three year old is going to pay higher price a meal than her mama and daddy when they were students.

Ah, all these made me think of my RM1 economy rice & RM0.50 fried kuey teoy at my middle school canteen. Cheap and delicious!


  1. here the canteen is managed by the local town conciliar. the price is indexed on the income of the parents, the maximum price for a preschool child is 3.5€

  2. Here also the canteen is managed by the town council. It costs 2.80€ by meal and the food for all the small villages canteen is prepared by a "central kitchen" 15kms from here and only warmed up in the school canteen. This is not very convenient because we have to declare one week early the days when the kids are going to eat at the canteen and the ticket is lost if the you change your mind or if the kid is not attending school because he is sick. Tickets are given back only if there is no service because the school is closed (strike) or if the teacher is absent.

    The food quantity is adapted to the kid age so for preschoolers they do not prepare big portions as a lot of the kids aren't going to finish their plate. For preschoolers it can be hard to actually know what your kid has eaten because he won't tell you and nobody in school will report it to you and often the persons in charge won't force him to finish its plate.

    As far as I know, very few parents bother to think about private schools before middle school (collège) and virtually every kid is going to public preschool and primary school except for very strict, very wealthy or very religious families.
    For middle school and high school however (when things get serious), a lot of parents that are concerned about discipline or bad reputation of their district school are choosing private schools.

  3. Hi Jem,

    We have heard about teachers on strike in public schools. We feel like private school takes good care of the kids and good education starts from the early age. Having said so I'm not against the public schools as I'm sure there are many good ones. It just that in our area we have this option so we go for it.

    I'm just curious why can't they let children bring their own lunch to school?

  4. Well yes, no one can say otherwise : public school teachers go on strike. Years with less than 10 days of strike are considered good years. Well maybe this will change with the new governments who is less likely to upset the teachers.

    About bringing your own lunch, this is is forbidden in all schools up to high school unlike in US or Japan where this is the norm.

    I think that they are afraid of the mess of children eating everywhere and of the responsibility if some kid get sick because of some food they had no control on.

    But most of all, I think that they just never have thought about it because it's really an alien idea to them :)

  5. That's expensive. My girls lunch meal cost €4.50, I think.

  6. How is it so far apart that the university restaurant charges me EU3.10 for entree+plat+dessert.

    I think it is the same across the board? CROUS is the investor?

  7. Yes, for students the "Resto U" are funded by the state in order to maintain a low meal cost. So this 3.10€ fee is in no way related to the actual cost of the meal.