Both my children now attend a German kindergarten. Kindergartens in Germany are for children up to 6 years old as school starts at 6. Typically, a hot meal is served at lunchtime (as well as a snack in the afternoon in ours).
This is how it works in our kindergarten. Of course, I cannot generalise to every German kindergarten but it should give you a general view of what it is like.
- No lunch box. Everyone shares a meal together.
- All sit together. Children and adults sit and eat together. No separate tables for adults.
- Adults eat the same thing as the children.
- Adults and children talk about their day, their weekend, families, etc together.
- The younger children are helped by the older ones.
- The older children (3-6) work on a rota to set up the table, clean it up, sweep the floor, etc.
- Food is brought in from the kitchen onto the dining areas on trolleys by the children.
- Everyone who is able to do it gets up and helps himself/herself (usually from 3 years old).
- Children younger than 3, are helped by their Partner-Kind (a kind of child buddy) who serves them and carries their plate back to their seat.
- Plates, glasses and cutlery are plastic for the younger children only. From 3, all children use normal grown-up porcelain plates and metal cutlery.
- It is typically German. Nothing very exotic or unusual (which is a little disappointing as far as I am concerned).
- Tasting the food is mandatory. And they really do it! I was amazed by that at the beginning but everyone has to taste everything. My girl eats salad there!
- There are almost no deserts. Just fruits.
- The afternoon snacks are always fruits and vegs (cucumber, peppers, carrots, pears, kiwis, bananas, etc...).
- Drinks offered are simply water or unsweetened (fruit) tea.
- Friday is always fish day.
- Once a month, a sweet dish is served as a main course (but this is a very local German thing I am told).
- There is a special menu for children under 18 months (but there are very few children under 18 months - 2 currently).
- Wednesdays are organic days (all food is organic).
Translation of the menu above:
2 organic eggs with herb sauce, potatoes and carrots. Fruits.
Salmon, creamed spinach, salted potatoes. Bananas.
Chopped chicken breast in a white sauce, vegetable bulgur, salad. Fruits.
Chickpea stew with pepper couscous. Vanilla custard pudding.
N.B. The letters next to the dishes refer to a list of ingredients that may cause allergies.