Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
In Socialist Sweden we had Free and Obligatory lunches at school. It was part of the curriculum in the early grades, with enforcement of good manners.

Grades 1-3: Eat at your assigned seat place with good table manners, and the teacher at the head of the table. 20 minutes enforced sitting at the table, even if you finished earlier. (So that no one hurries their lunch to get the best swing at post lunch play time.) And do finish that food! No leaving the lunch room without finishing your plate! No food choices either. You ate what was served, at the prescribed portion size.

Grades 4-6: Again, assigned seating, but with two teachers supervising the whole room rather than one for each class. A little less surveillance means you can try to hide some of the uneaten food in the potted plants next to the tables. And get told off for the same. Again, 20 minutes before you can leave the lunch room. And some days you have to help wash the dishes.

Grades 7-9: Food lunch is served free of charge to all, but you no longer have to eat it. You may bring lunch, go home to eat, choose your own portion size, etc. No more assigned seating, no more enforced time in the lunch room. But by then, kids were no longer in a hurry to leave.

High School: Our town was cutting back on school lunch expenses, and lunch was only half paid for. Eat or not, where you want, you are on your own.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 11:39:30 AM EST
Eww - I think that "obligatory" bit is torture.  My first school did that.  They gave up on me after I threw up on a teacher's shoes in 1st grade.  

That said, I probably could've used some manners enforcement.  My first civilized boyfriend had to teach me to properly hold a fork in my teens.  I'm still uncomfortable in nice restaurants.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Socialist Norway never had school meals, except for a few years after the war when times were very hard for most people.  Even then it was only optional school breakfast...milk and sandwiches and a piece of carrot or half an apple.  

Today children get milk and fruit (free for all) to go with their packed lunch.

Lunch is often consumed outside, and I don't think teachers bother about manners.  Norwegians generally don't have manners, so teachers would have to be trained themselves before they could teach.

Swedes are so much more polite than Norwegians - now I understand why:-)

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:27:15 PM EST
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We used to get milk or apples during the morning break, don't know if they still do it and it was free.
by Fran on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 01:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC NEWS | Wales | Row over school breakfast scheme
Less than 10% of primary schools in Wales are offering their pupils a free breakfast, a year after the scheme was introduced by the assembly government.

Figures show 148 out of a possible 1,588 primaries will offer their pupils a free breakfast by the end of the autumn term

Haven't found more recent information although an evaluation of this scheme is being done.

I do wish that schools wouldn't make children drink milk though.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 03:40:48 AM EST
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But subsidised milk is such a great way to use all those CAP-funded cows...

Also, it provides an opportunity for branding and marketing of milk producers in a school environment that's so desperately underprovided in that department, compared to the rest of society.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 03:52:59 AM EST
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My only experience with school lunch was in the US, which for me was fun and I was to overwhelmed with new impressions to register much about what is going on, besides at the beginning not speaking the language.

In Switzerland there was no school lunch, we always went home for lunch and then back to school. I think this is still the same way. If the mother works the kids might eat with some relatives or what we call a "Tagesmutter" (daymother) often the mother of another kid in school. The bigger ones might probably migth bring their lunch and eat it with some friends - but I am a little out of the loop, so am not quite sure how it is handled today.

by Fran on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 01:09:13 AM EST
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