The aim of the study was to determine the acceptability, waste and nutritional adequacy of lunches served in all public primary school canteens in Pavia, Northern Italy. School canteens of all public primary schools were investigated to determine the acceptability, waste and nutritional adequacy of their menus. In addiction, the environment of the canteens (brightness, noisiness, size, crowding, cleanliness, attractiveness) was observed. The observations were conducted from April to June 2012. In each school canteen, lunch was supervised for three consecutive days by 5 trained dietitians. In total, 13 schools, 22 classes and 448 schoolchildren aged 7-8.5 years were investigated. The school canteens were found to be hygienically appropriate and homely. The menus offered appeared nutritionally adequate but portion sizes were often too big for the children’s age. Consequently a lot of waste was encountered, especially fruit and vegetables (70% of children refused vegetables), but first and main courses were also wasted (50% of children consumed a first course and the same proportion consumed a main course). The meals offered by the school canteens appeared nutritionally appropriate although portion-sizes were often too large for 7-8.5 aged schoolchildren. The quality and variety of the menus were good and the raw materials were usually D.O.P. (Protected Denomination of Origin) as a guarantee of high quality. This study has drawn attention to the need to adapt the menus to the children’s age in order to reduce waste.