School Lunches Around the World

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School lunches vary greatly around the world, reflecting diversity of cultural, dietary, and economic factors. While those in the United States may joke about “mystery meat” or Salisbury Steak, we find quite a range here and around the globe. Here are just a few examples of typical school lunches from different countries.


In Japan, school lunches are known as kyushoku and are typically prepared on-site in school kitchens. They often consist of rice, miso soup, a protein source such as fish or meat, and a variety of seasonal vegetables. Kyushoku is designed to provide a balanced and nutritious meal, with an emphasis on locally sourced and organic ingredients.


In France, school lunches are taken seriously and are viewed as an important part of the educational experience. Meals are prepared by trained chefs and often feature traditional French dishes such as ratatouille or beef bourguignon. French school lunches typically include multiple courses, including a salad or vegetable course, a main course, and a dessert.


In Brazil, school lunches are provided for free to all students in public schools. The meals are designed to meet nutritional standards and include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, beans, and a protein source such as chicken or fish. Brazilian school lunches often include a sweet dessert, such as pudding or cake.


In India, school lunches are known as mid-day meals and are provided to students in government schools. The meals typically consist of rice, lentils, and vegetables, and are often served with a side of pickles or chutney. Mid-day meals are designed to combat malnutrition and encourage attendance and retention in school.


In the United States, school lunches are regulated by the National School Lunch Program and must meet nutritional standards. Common items on a school lunch menu might include a sandwich or wrap, fruit, vegetables, and milk. However, the quality and variety of school lunches can vary widely depending on the school district and funding, and lunches are not a guarantee for every student.

Vegetarian, professionally-prepared, free, unhealthy – there’s tremendous range in the experience of school children around the globe when it comes to their school lunch experience. How did your school lunches compare?

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