When my kids were in elementary school, they didn’t want to eat school lunches. They said, and I quote, “They serve microwaved frozen foods Mom!” I told them, some frozen foods are good! But the kids insisted, those were not edible frozen foods. I admired their discerning tastes and instincts as I chuckled while patting myself on the back for raising health conscious kids. I was not trying to be the “Mother of the Year” when I packed their lunches, trust me. I was just trying to keep them from being hungry in class since they didn’t want to eat “sketchy” food. Such fine word from my kids to describe what most children were eating at their school. Sad.
I packed a variety of fresh foods in thermos and reusable containers. They always brought fruits for snacks and water to drink but never sodas. I admit, most of the time, they had leftover dinners from the night before but still, they were better than what they were being served at school. Even some teachers commented that my kids had the best lunches, better than even theirs.
What School Lunches Look Like Worldwide
Seriously though, when I saw this post on Sweet Greens on what American school cafeteria lunches look like compared to the world, it brought back sad memories of what my children were talking about. Now, understand that these pictures are purposely designed to make a point but I don’t doubt that these are that far from the truth. I’ll let you be the judge. Check out what the rest of the world is feeding their children at school.
In Italy, school children eat local fish on a bed of arugula, pasta with tomato sauce, caprese salad, baguette and some grapes. Fresh local fish and lots of fresh veggies. Fresh!
Brazilian children eat pork with mixed veggies, black beans and rice, salad, bread and baked plantains. Again, fresh greens for growing children! Imagine that!
What do French children eat? Steak, carrots, green beans, cheese and fresh fruit. Steak for lunch? Wow.
And of course, my motherland, South Korea. Fish soup, tofu over rice, kimchi and fresh veggies. Yum. Brings me back good memories.
But what do we serve our children in America? Fried ‘popcorn’ chicken (probably frozen), mashed potatoes (sugar), peas, fruit cup (sugar) and a chocolate chip cookie (sugar). Oh, and ketchup (sugar, although, USDA will tell you it’s vegetable.) And probably served with chocolate milk that has a ton of added sugar. Or ‘fruit’ juice with artificial colors and added sugar.
So what do you think? Do our school lunches stand up to what the rest of the world’s children are eating?
I can tell you from my experience of attending a few years of elementary school in South Korea, my school lunches were NOT always as complete as pictured. But I always had some sort of soup, rice, and kimchi. Always. But with more American influence now, with McDonald’s KFC, Subway and a like, I bet school children are eating more junk food than when I was in school.
To see more lunches from around the world, go to Sweet Greens.
What Can We Do?
Companies like Sweet Greens and Red Rabbit are offering better options for school lunches. We need more innovative thought leaders and entrepreneurs (yes, they think outside the box) that can fix the system. Until then, we have to educate our kids about healthy eating, lead by example, and speak out for our children.
Do you want to make delicious and nutritious lunches for your kids? Check out my friend Linda’s Organic Kitchen’s school lunch ideas your kids would LOVE. She knows about school lunches. She had a lot of kids and has great tips and oodles of ideas. Tell her I sent you. 😉