THE BLOG
12/12/2013 12:42 pm ET | Updated Feb 11, 2014

What School Lunches Look Like Around the World

Whatever your memories of high school, your lunches may stick out like a sore thumb -- for better or for worse. Whether your school served up "prison food" or heavenly junk food at the cafeteria, lunchtime was a time to gather with friends to gossip and wreak havoc over a plate of fries and shared ketchup, or if you were so unfortunate, it was a time to be forced into giving your lunch over to the class bully.

Click Here to see The Complete List of School Lunches Around the World

School lunches are a popular topic among state and national education and health boards in the United States, with schools often criticized for providing an imbalanced meal, and parents and the public continually promised changes to come. But despite the best efforts of people like British chef Jamie Oliver to highlight just how improperly fed students are and to attempt to change the system, most students in the U.S. are still living off unhealthy food that's somehow passed off as healthy, including shocking examples of fries and ketchup being considered as a daily serving of "vegetables."

  • South Korea
    Click Here to see The Complete List of School Lunches Around the World Sectioned steel trays in schools in South Korea are filled in a specific way, with the larger sections traditionally composed of rice, picked kimchi (fermented cabbage), and soup, and the smaller sections holding vegetables and meat. Photo Credit: iStock/Thinkstock
  • India
    While lunch at cafeterias is not common among schools in India, students do bring their own homemade lunch boxes, mainly consisting of roti, a leafy vegetable, and curried lentils and rice — a balanced and relatively healthy meal. Unfortunately, this is offset by some school cafeterias that often serve tempting snacks such as batatavada (round deep-fried potato and crumbs) and medhu vada (donut-shaped fried grain and lentil mixture), which are popular among students. Photo Credit: © Flickr /lorises
  • Brazil
    Click Here to see The Complete List of School Lunches Around the World With a variety of beans native to South America, it is no surprise that legumes feature heavily on Brazilian school lunch menus. Like in Italy, there is a focus on sustainable farming and serving local produce, with the beans often accompanied by locally sourced greens and fruits (such as bananas). Photo Credit: iStock/Thinkstock
  • Kenya
    Lentils and beans often provide a good alternative protein source, and githeri, a Kenyan staple, is served in schools around Kenya. Githeri is a stewed mixture of dried beans and maize and is served in large bowls to students. In some cases, the mixture also gains additional nutritional value from meats, greens, and potatoes added in. Photo Credit: © Flickr /CIMMYT
  • United Kingdom
    Click Here to see The Complete List of School Lunches Around the World Before Jamie Oliver went to the United States to tackle the issue of school lunches, he fought the issue in his native United Kingdom, successfully bringing major reforms. Macronutrients are now taken into consideration, and while deep-fried items are still allowed, they're limited to twice a week. Fizzy drinks, chocolate, or sweets in vending machines are banned in some U.K. schools, and students instead enjoy healthy servings of corn or peas, rice, potato or bread, and any lean protein, such as fish or lean meat. Photo Credit: Chris Terry_PR-Newswire_Newscom

However, school students in many nations around the world don't suffer from the same issues. Gone are the mac and cheese, creamy butter biscuits, pizza slices, chicken nuggets, and soda. Instead they're replaced by dishes like grilled fish (Japan), pickled kimchi (Korea), and green pea soup (Finland), all delicious enough to entice kids to eat .

But it's not all utopia: globalization has a lot to answer for, with the extremely delicious but plainly unhealthy Americanized foods such as pizzas and fries creeping their way into school lunches around the world.

-- Chinmoylad, The Daily Meal

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