He may not have been dining on foie gras or fresh baguettes, but French food aficionado Guillaume Garot said he enjoyed the food he was served at a New York City public school Tuesday.
Garot, the junior minister for France's food industry, visited P.S./I.S. 499 in Flushing, Queens, to experience some of the school lunch reforms spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I). Hosted by New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, the pair hit up the school’s fresh salad bar and dined on a plate of barbecue chicken, rice, sweet plantains and broccoli, according to a New York City Education Department press release.
It was the first time that a leader from the gastronomy-focused country had eaten in a city school cafeteria, and he sang the meal’s praises.
“The vegetables have taste!” he said as he ate a tomato salad, according to the New York Daily News.
While Minister Garot noted that the appetizer, entrée and dessert that French school kids receive for lunch is not too shabby, he said he was interested in learning about New York City schools' healthy practices.
"I'm very impressed by the concept of 'school food' and how to show that there's a link between the food and what we eat and everything else in the education system," said Garot, according to New York Public Radio station WNYC.
Walcott noted in a statement that the city has taken steps to reduce sodium and eliminate trans fats in school food, and that salad bars have been built in more than 1,000 schools around the city.
Walcott and Garot were not the only ones enjoying the school’s cafeteria. There were also young children who were participating in the city’s Summer Meals Program. According to the New York Daily News, P.S./I.S. 499 is one of the 1,000 sites that serves children free breakfast and lunch during the summer.
However, as a New York City 11-year-old recently documented, what New York City schools advertise on their menu is not always what is served. Student Zachary Maxwell made a short film exposing his cafeteria’s shortcomings by comparing the school’s menu to the school’s actual lunches.