Native Village
Youth and Education news
January 2010 Volume 3

School Lunches Around the World
Condensed by Native Village

The National School Lunch Act became law in 1946.  Who could have imagined that one day American schools would serve chicken fingers, frozen French fries and soggy pizza? 

While nutrition activists are trying to get healthier foods into our schools, here's what school lunches look like in other countries:

Meals  are "tasty, colorful and well-balanced."  Cooked and raw vegetables cover half the plate. (Carrot and beet salads are popular). Proteins and starches each take 1/4 plate. A vegetarian option is usually offered.  Hernekeitto, a green pea soup often flavored with smoked pork, is usually served on Thursdays.
Most Aussie kids bring their lunch from home.  Often it's a sandwich of cheese and Vegemite, a jam-like, salty yeast-based spread that's been a staple since 1922.
Most schools serve lunches made from organic ingredients grown nearby. They center around pasta or risotto and salad. Meat is served only a couple times a week. Unfortunately, merendine (snacks) are frequently eaten, especially packaged candies and cakes. Bread with Nutella is also popular.
Italy has a higher proportion of overweight children than the U.S.
 Githeri -- a mixture of beans and dried corn --  is the standard school lunch throughout the country.  Students line up with their plastic bowls as servings are ladled out from huge pots.
 Korean school cafeterias often use sectioned metal trays. The two biggest sections are for rice, usually served with pickled vegetable kimchi and soup. Three smaller compartments hold side dishes of vegetables and fish. Kids are given little plastic bottles of a sweet yogurt drink, which is hugely popular in Korea.
 Schools offer a free morning snack of milk and biscuits -- known as cookies to us Americans. In 1963, the government began a hot lunch program. Most meals are beans and rice which is delivered by van to schools around the island.
The school day usually runs from 7 a.m. until noon. During morning hours, kids munch on snacks like queijadinhas, which are muffins made from cheese and coconut. Many children eat lunch at home after school, but the schools offer hot, healthy meals to underprivileged students.
Kids are served pretty much the same things adults eat. A week's menu might include veal scallops Marengo, hake with lemon sauce, and lamb with paprika. Fresh bread and salad are included at every meal, and fruit and yogurt are the usual desserts.
In Japan, school lunch is known as kyuushoku. Kyuushoku is eaten in the classroom. Rice and fish make up most menus, but students are sometimes treated to dishes like korokke, (fried potato croquettes) or omurice, (an omelet filled with a ketchupy rice and chicken.)
School lunch in Zambia is nshima, white cornmeal cooked to a thick, sticky dough. Nshima is the staple food for Zambia's entire population. It's eaten with your hands and dipped into relishes made from greens, dried sardines, or stewed soy protein.
Denmark and Norway
Scandinavian school children usually bring their own lunches to school. The standard is smørrebrød, which are open-faced sandwiches of cheese, liver spread or salami on dense dark rye bread.
Singapore school lunches are served like a food court. Different stalls are rented out to private cooks, and kids can choose between noodle soups, curries with rice, and  "Western" food. Kids especially love chicken chop, a boneless chicken covered with thick gravy. Chicken chop is served with either spaghetti or beans and coleslaw.

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