Ever wonder what children are eating for lunch across the world? Take a look at these 11 very different school lunches and learn some fascinating insights into kids’ school lives across the globe.
In Japan, 99% of elementary school students and 82% of junior-high students eat kyūshoku (school lunch).
An English teacher in Kochi, Japan says a typical lunch “consists of a glass bottle of milk, a bowl of rice, usually some type of fish, a pickled salad, some kind of soup usually with tofu and vegetables, and a piece of fruit.”
Burger and chips! There is a group of retired military officers stating that today’s school lunches are making the kids so fat that many are unable to meet the military’s physical fitness standards.
The good news is that the Improving Nutrition for American’s Children Act was recently passed, whose aim is to make school lunches more nutritional, encourage partnerships with local farms, raise the reimbursement rate for schools and force schools to set standards for vending machine food.
In Beijing, school lunches are typically provided by the school, who orders them through food companies supervised by the local education authority. In other parts of China, children go home for lunch which provides some important family time.
In India, school lunches are often provided from home. Ever the entrepreneurs, a food service worker called a dabbawalla has arisen to provide a service whereby they pick up the fresh meal from home and deliver it to school. The empty containers are picked up once lunch is over.
A typical lunch might be roti, (flat bread) a dal, and a vegetable or meat curry.
5) South Korea
Nutrition is an important topic in South Korea, as it should be. In fact, they’ve banned junk food advertisements aimed at kids, a step that would go a long way here in North America.
Pictured below is kimchi, rice, tofu, and soybean sprouts.
In the UK, the debate rages on over packed lunches or school-provided meals. Jamie Oliver began a campaign in 2004 to improve the nutritional quality of UK school lunches.
His work paved the way for the School Food Trust, an independent body dedicated to helping schools provide meals that meet nutritional standards.
If you were lucky enough to experience British school dinners this pie and custard dessert should look familiar.
7) Burkina Faso (West Africa)
School lunches in West Africa rely heavily on foreign aid. 45% of the west-African country’s population live below the poverty line and 36.4% suffer from chronic malnutrition.
The UN World Food Program provides meals to rural primary school children located in the arid Sahel Region — the most food-insecure area of Burkina Faso.
If you’d like to get involved, a Google search yields many organizations providing help.
8 ) France
A typical school lunch in France would be considered a gourmet meal in North America.
From a real lunch menu: cucumbers with garlic and fine herbs; Basque chicken thigh with herbs; red and green bell peppers and olive oil; couscous; organic yogurt; apple.
As stated at School Lunch Talk, the “mid-day meal is supposed to teach students good manners, good taste and the elements of good nutrition.”
EnjoyThaiFood.com conducted a survey of 10-15 year-olds to find out which were the most popular school lunches in Thailand. These were the top five:
- Fried Chicken on rice – khao mun gai tod (16%)
- Egg noodle soup with wonton – ba mee (14%)
- Boiled Chicken on rice – khao mun gai (12%)
- Lemon Grass Soup with Chicken – tom yum gai (7%)
- Macaroni Soup (6%)
Childrens’ diets in Taiwan have come under scrutiny, with reports stating that the consumption of the recommended portions of vegetables, fruits, and dairy foods is on the decline, while consumption of unhealthy snacks and fast foods is on the rise.
The USDA found that students were leaving food on their tray, resulting in them receiving less than half of the recommended vegetable and fruit serving.
Italy has a law that enforces schools (as well as hospitals and other pubic institutions) to use organic and local products.
By 2003, 70% of Italian schools were using organic ingredients. Not only are the children eating healthier, but they are also learning how to eat healthy and sustainably.
What are your kids eating at school? Teachers – what are your thoughts? Post up your comments and let us know!
If you liked this you might also like: Top 10 Places to Teach English Abroad.
[Sources: Wikipedia, BBC News, care2.com, thestar.com, CBS News, topnews.com.sg, usfoodtaiwan.org, The Guardian, schoolfoodpolicy.com, alternet.org, American Chronical]
First image: Chinese school lunch by kosmosxipo