Parents Fined For Not Sending Ritz Crackers In Kids’ Lunches


It’s quite possible that the single stupidest school lunch policy on the planet comes courtesy of a strange interpretation of the Manitoba Government’s Early Learning and Child Care lunch regulations (an earlier version of this article incorrectly pointed at the Manitoba Child Care Association as the source of the strangely interpreted policy).
Apparently if a child’s lunch is deemed “unbalanced“, where “balance” refers to ensuring that a lunch conforms to the proportions of food groups as laid out by Canada’s awful Food Guide, then that child’s lunch is “supplemented“, and their parent is fined.
Blog reader Kristen Bartkiw received just such a fine.

Continue reading “Parents Fined For Not Sending Ritz Crackers In Kids’ Lunches”

India school lunch deaths: pesticide found in cooking oil

July 20, 2013 14:36

The children died after eating a free school lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice in the Bihar region on Tuesday.

pesticide india lunches

School lunch that killed 23 children in India was found to have contained agricultural pesticide. (Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images)

A powerful insecticide killed 23 young Indian students last week, a forensic report has found.

The children died after eating a free school lunch of lentils, potatoes and rice in the Bihar region on Tuesday.

The industrial-strength insecticide was found in the cooking oil used to make the meal. It was said to be five times stronger than commercial chemical insecticides.

“The report has found organophospharus in oil samples collected from the school where the mid-day meal was prepared and consumed by the children,” said Ravinder Kumar, a senior police officer in Bihar state capital Patna, according to AFP.

“It was observed by the scientists of the Forensic Science Laboratory that the poisonous substance in the (food) oil samples was more than five times the commercial preparation available in the market.”

More from GlobalPost: Poverty, not poison, killed Indian school lunch kids

The victims, aged four to 12, were buried in the playfield near the primary school that served the lunch.

Another two dozen children are still being treated in hospital.

The deaths sparked protests in the region.

Authorities are still investigating how the chemical got into the cooking oil. No arrests have been made.

The lunch was part of India’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme, which feeds 120 million children – often their only meal of the day.

The plan seeks to alleviate malnutrition and boost school attendance rates.

Our Japanese reporter’s encounter with American school lunch

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School LunchMany 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!

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch14

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.

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch3

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch4

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch5

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch6

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch7

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…

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch9

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch10

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch11

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch12

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch13

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch14

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.

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch15

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch16

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch17

Our Japanese Reporter's Experience Eating American School Lunch18

▼ 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?

School Lunch in Japan 【You, Me, And A Tanuki】

You, Me, And a Tanuki is a weekly featured blog run by Michelle, a Californian who is currently one of only two foreigners living in Chibu, a tiny fishing village on one of the Oki islands in Japan. Check back every Saturday for a new post or read more on her website here!

Ah, school lunch in Japan.  I’ve had some of the best meals served to me on those plastic lunch trays.  I’ve also had some of the worst.  You might remember my post from last week that talked about the worst school lunch in the world. But for the most part, school lunch in Japan is surprisingly delicious and enjoyable.

School lunch, or kyuushoku as it’s called here, is one of the many examples of team work displayed in Japan.  The students and teachers are split into groups and given a serving duty.  For example, some students serve the soup, others the main dish, etc.  They do this while wearing full aprons, hair nets, and masks.  The students and teachers who are not on service duty form a line, grab a tray, and pick up one of each dish.  Once everyone has been served and is seated at their desk (in Japan, the students eat in their classroom), everyone puts their hands together and says “itadakimasu” (I humbly accept this food).  Only then can you dig in.  I think this is a really nice custom as I recall my poor mother who was still in the process of trying to get all of the food on the table while her three daughters and husband were chowing down.

^Gyuu-don (beef bowl [healthy style]), soup, broccoli mayonnaise side dish, melon, and whole milk

^Summer vegetable curry and rice, Korean Squash gratin, daikon and seaweed side dish, mikan, and whole milk.

There are also some very interesting customs when it comes to food handling and preparation.  One of our friends works at the school lunch center and says that she has to wash all fruits and vegetables three times.  She also has three different aprons and must change them depending on the task (cutting vegetables, preparing food, cleaning dishes).  Also, one of the staff must eat the school lunch at least half an hour before the students consume it to make sure that it’s safe to eat. Kyuushoku is probably the safest and most properly prepared meal you’re ever going to eat (a lot safer than when I cook and the 3 second rule is fully employed).  It’s also really cheap for the amount and quality of food you get.  I pay around 350 yen (~$4.50) for more food than I can comfortably eat that’s extremely fresh and healthy (no frozen food here, everything is made that day).

^Mabo Nasu (Chinese-style egg plant stir-fry), rice, dumpling soup, vegetable side, homemade mandarin orange jello, and whole milk.

Chibu’s kyuushoku is very special because we actually have three farmers who grow food on the island specifically for the school lunches.  While we are eating, the elementary school students read an announcement about the school lunch and tell us which vegetables came from whose garden.  A typical announcement might note that the carrots and cabbage in the soup are from X-san’s garden and then go on to tell us a few factoids about a vegetable and why it’s good for us.  I think it’s really great that the school lunch center takes the time to acknowledge the farmers who grow the vegetables in our lunches.

^Chilled noodles, spinach and sesame seed side dish, watermelon, homemade kabocha steamed bread, and whole milk.

Despite the fresh and healthy meals that you are served at school, there are some drawbacks to having to eat kyuushoku every day.  For one, you have to eat everything.  When I first came to Chibu, I left literally around 10 grains of rice in my bowl and was promptly scolded by the elementary school student sitting next to me.  The most extreme example of the enforcement of this rule is when one of the students, struggling to finish something he absolutely hated, was made to sit at the lunch table until he ate every bite.  Two minutes later, the cleaning announcement came over the loud speaker and he missed his chance to play after lunch.  As a teacher, I can get away with not eating everything, but I feel bad getting a free pass when the kids are forced to eat even their most hated of foods.  This is why I force myself to eat my most hated meal: shishamo.

^Shishamo, chirashi zushi (deconstructed sushi), potato salad, soup, a mildly sweet mochi-like dessert, and whole milk

^Can you see why I struggle to eat these things from head to tail? Oh also, they’re filled with tiny eggs. Yeah…

So there you have it, the wonders of kyuushoku.  Even though I have to eat everything regardless of how it tastes to me, I love being served school lunch every day because there are a surprising variety of dishes ranging from Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Western style.  We receive a menu at the beginning of the month and I always read it, looking forward to my favorite lunches (and dreading having to eat shishamo which usually makes an appearance once every other month).  I think the US should take a look into Japan’s cafeterias and try to improve the school lunches.  I loved tater tots and pizza as a kid, but as Japan has shown me, there are tastier, healthier options to be found.

Michelle is originally from California, but  currently living in the tiny fishing village of Chibu, one of the Oki islands in Japan.  Being one of two foreigners living in an island village of a little over 600 people presents many adventures.  Come back every Saturday for a new article featuring the interesting and bizarre things she comes across in her life in rural Japan.  Once a week not enough?  Check out her blog, You, Me, And A Tanuki, for photographs and even more articles.

We’re still looking for more unique and interesting stories from Asia to share with the world, so drop us a line if you’d like to have your own blog featured on RocketNews24.

Are prisoners better fed than our children? Students and inmates eat almost identical lunches, but jailhouse cuisine is healthier


Sunday, Sep 23 2012

By Laura Cox

PUBLISHED:13:02 EST, 22 September 2012| UPDATED:13:02 EST, 22 September 2012

Few can say they had a good school lunch experience.

Stereotypically sloppy and greasy and served up with greying mashed potatoes, canteen dinners are a childhood memory best forgotten.

Even prisoners would turn their noses up at some of it, according to the LA-based community blog

Do students eat like prisoners? Graphic shows the average contents of a jailhouse meal versus a school lunchLarger:


Do students eat like prisoners? Graphic shows the average contents of a jailhouse meal versus a school lunch

This infographic was posted on the site, comparing the average daily offerings of jailhouses and elementary schools.

Both meals contain roughly the same number of calories (around 1,400) but what’s shocking is that prisoners are allowed a greater serving of fruit and vegetables than growing children.

Students are missing out on essential vitamins and mineral, being served just half a cup of fruit or vegetables, compared with prisoners’ half cup plus one piece of fruit.

They are also given less meat – a maximum of two ounces – while inmates get three or four.

Money-saving prison chefs can feed an inmate on approximately $2.62-per-day, compared with $2.68 for just one school lunch.

Healthier: Inmates get a half cup of vegetables plus one piece of fruit per mealHealthier: Inmates get a half cup of vegetables plus one piece of fruit per meal

And they have to be frugal – in 2009 the federal budget for prison food was $205 million, while school chiefs are allocated a significantly higher annual fund of around $11 billion for school food programmes.

But it seems the money could be more wisely spent. Less than one third of school food operations meet the recommended standard for saturated fat in their meals.

Equally alarming is the revelation that meat products go through fewer standard tests than the ground beef served at fast food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King.

Perhaps student ought to take inspiration from the residents of one Vermont prison who in 2008 filed a lawsuit over ‘nutraloaf’, which they argued was more punishment than nourishment.