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School Dinners in Spain

By Jo Green - Fri 14th Oct 2011

October means winter hours for schools in Spain - in other words 9am - 12noon, break for lunch and then back again at 3pm - 5pm.

Obviosuly the three hour gap can be a bit a of a nuisance if you have to work, or are wanting to make plans, lete alone the fact that it basically means four trips to the school rather than just the two.

And whilst three hours seems like a long break, the teaching staff organise activities like Dance, Theater or Yoga classes to keep the kids entertained. At my daughter's school they even have English classes, but I'm not ure she needs those just yet.

So this year when our daughter asked if she could go to 'Comedor' and spend the whole day at school we jumped at the chance. She did ask if she could towards the end of last school year, but at the start of the year we decided that 3 years old was too young for her to be able to spend all day away from home and that it would be too tiring for her.

With hindsight it wasn't. When she did come home for her lunch she never had a siesta - largely due to the lack of time after the trips backwards & forwards, and would have been much more likely to have had a siesta at school anyway.

So when the permission slip came home the other week we signed it off.

The choice was basically a yes : she would take school Dinners 5 days a week at a cost of 3 Euros 80 per day; that she would occasionally take school dinners (no more than twice per week) at 4 Euros 20 per day; or that she would take them from home.

We opted for the the fulltime option, and also opted for her to take Theatre Class (her choice) and Psychomatricula (Basically a co-ordination and movement class that the Town Hall Pay for). This helps to while away the time she has to kill between having her lunch and the start of the afternoon lessons.

The food itself is incredibly well thought out : The meals are planned by a Nutritionalist from the Regional Government, who plans the fat and salt content of everything etc... and the parents are sent home a kind of wall planner at the start of the school year so they can see exactly what their kids will be eating on that day - up to one year in advance !

Jamie Oliver would be proud.

A Typcial meal would be a sald with fresh bread to start with, some kind f Chicken or Fish with rice and vegetables,, and a peice of fruit or yoghurt to finish with.

At the end of every week a very simple report is sent back advising the parents what their child did or didn't eat and how much. They know this because the Dinner ladies sit at the table to supervise and help the kids. And rather than being sacry tabard-wearing old ladies like they usually are in the UK, Spanish dinner ladies actually seem 'nice' and 'normal'.

And whilst the 98 Euros per month (including the extra classes) might seem like a lot, the potential that it goves us to get other (paid) work done, and savings on petrol make it all worth while, aside from the fact that it is her choice aswell.

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