A plateful of carbs – ptitim (the Hebrew word for “orzo,” that rice-shaped pasta) and schnitzel, served with a dollop of ketchup and a side serving of overcooked corn kernels and peas — is often the standard lunch served to Israeli kids remaining in school for an extended day. In fact, it’s the meal most often offered to Israeli children in nearly any scenario, whether at school, a restaurant or back home, sometimes with French fries or pasta subbed in for the orzo.
“Our kids are eating bad food,” said Jerusalem city councilwoman Rachel Azaria, “and the Education Ministry has the ability and obligation to join forces with the world trend in serving kids healthy, balanced meals.”
Azaria and a crew of fellow Jerusalemites, members of a local political and social action party, served trays of the typical lunch fare to Education Ministry staffers on Monday afternoon, in an effort to show them the unsuitable foods often provided to schoolchildren.
It’s all part of “Aruchat Eser” — Ten O’Clock Break — an initiative by a group of parents dedicated to changing the school lunch menus and named for the 10 a.m. snack-time that serves as recess and lunchtime for many Israeli schoolchildren. Public schools end their lessons around 2 p.m., but many children remain in an extended day program that is partially paid for by the parents, and generally includes a hot lunch.
Under the new Trachtenberg laws now being adopted following the social protests of the summer of 2011, the Education Ministry is supposed to be paying for and handling those school lunches. They will be feeding “hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren,” commented Azaria, a “big responsibility, and it’s about time that the Education and Health ministries began working together to get our kids to eat healthy.”
The parents have gathered more than 1,200 signatures for a petition for healthier eats — to be delivered to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar — and have put together a committee of parents, chefs, caterers and nutritionists to advise on better meals.