Wednesday, April 18, 2007

School lunch

I've just searched the web for "Japanese school lunches" in the hope of stealing a picture of a standard Japanese school lunch and as usual was bombarded by a large number of blogs by "foreingers" living here in Japan who have to eat the school lunch ..... generally not very positive! Having eaten school lunches for 3 years I can sympathize...not knowing what you are eating every day can become a little stressful!
But, now that I am a mother I am very appreciative of school lunches. For anyone unfamiliar with the school lunch system here in Japan - it works something like this (well it does in my town anyway!). Every day a cental school lunch center makes lunch for all the children in the surrounding primary and junior high schools. They pile it into metal containers and then a truck comes and delivers it to all the different schools. At lunch time the kids go and get their basket with all their plates, chopsticks and of course the different buckets of food and take them to their classrooms where they share it out (of course first putting on their aprons, hats and masks....) and start scoffing. There is always milk and twice a week there is bread - the remaining three days there is rice. We recieve a menu for the month with detailed descriptions of calorie content, different food groups etc. and in return we have to pay 4,000 yen (NZ$45) a month.
Now the reason I am so happy about this school lunch system is because if they didn't have school lunch then I would be expected to make a packed lunch every day. In New Zealand I wouldn't complain - throw a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a muesli bar and maybe some yoghurt into a bag and you're finished, but here in Japan..... a packed lunch requires a little more effort. There are millions of books written on the subject and not only nutritional balance, but visual balance must be taken into consideration as well as ensuring that everything is cold before you put the lid on..... Today my daughter was supposed to go on a school outing so I had to make a "bento". Of course it is raining so they aren't going this week, but the school lunch had already been cancelled so the bento was needed anyway. Which means it will also be required next week and my son now requires one every Wednesday.... the fun life of a Japanese housewife!

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