- 4 days ago by Michelle
Many people in Japan think that American school lunches are unhealthy. For the most part, they are right. When photos of the greasy fried foods and brown piles of slop that are served to students in the US surfaced on the internet, Japanese netizens were shocked. With all the talk of Americans being overweight and school lunches being fat-laden and unhealthy, our own Japanese reporter wondered, “Is it really as bad as it seems?” During his recent trip to the US, our reporter was allowed to try the lunch served at a school in the United States. The following is a translation of his encounter with American school lunch.
When you think of school lunch in the United States, you probably imagine hamburgers, French fries, potato chips; anything with a lot of fat and a lot of calories. But what is it really like? I was recently given the opportunity to visit an elementary school in California where they served me school lunch.
Hey Japan! This is American school lunch!
First choose your main dish
You first go to the front counter of the cafeteria and pick up a plastic tray. In Japan, it’s common for schools to decide the lunch menu and to not give the students an opportunity to choose their food. However, on the day I visited this school in California, students were able to choose between chicken burgers or tacos. They could also choose their drink: milk or chocolate milk. Once you receive your main dish from the cafeteria workers, you can go to the salad bar and get vegetables and fruit.
▼ Students go to the cafeteria and choose between two menu items.
There are rules at the salad bar
However, the salad bar has a few rules. First, you must take at least one main fruit or vegetable dish from the “fruit and vegetable corner” of the salad bar. Second, you must take at least three different kinds of vegetables from the salad bar, but you can’t take more than four. Although there were a few rules, there was no restriction on the amount of vegetables that could be taken.
▼ Choose three different types of vegetables at the salad bar.
Pay for lunch at the register
Once you have taken vegetables from the salad bar, you can go and pay for your food at the cash register. The price is $4 for adults and $2 for children. Students can just show their student ID and their parents will be billed later.
▼Pay $4 at the register.
But how did it taste…
I quickly tried both the chicken burger and taco, but I was surprised to find that they both had no flavor. Also, the chocolate milk wasn’t so sweet. As I sat there wondering if these American children were satisfied with the meal, I realized that all of the children were putting ketchup on their burgers…in large quantities I might add. Maybe this is why many American children gain weight…
Problems with this school’s lunch
After eating school lunch, I talked with a few Japanese parents. Many of them said something like this: “There are lots of fruits and vegetables in the salad bar, but the kids only choose the foods they like to eat. Most of the kids aren’t eating many vegetables which is a problem.”
I saw that the milk each student receives is in a plastic bag and students pierce the bag with a straw to drink, but I noticed that a lot of the kids were sloppily slurping up their milk…
▼ Here are a few more pictures taken by our reporter.
▼ And here is a video that was taken to show American school lunch to people in Japan.
To those familiar with American school lunches, do you think this was an accurate depiction of a typical meal served at schools in the US? What do you think about our Japanese reporter’s impressions of American school lunch?