HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Economy & Education » Education (Group) » 20 school lunches from ar...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:20 PM

20 school lunches from around the world.

White rice topped with a spoonful of curry in Sri Lanka. A bowl of fresh beans in Sudan. Steamed mussels served with a plate of pomme frites in France. We’ve put together a collection of photos showing what kids are getting for school lunch in 20 different countries. Most of these lunch trays are covered in fresh fruits and vegetables, steaming bowls of soup and homemade-looking dishes.

What looks the most appetizing to you?

Probably not the meal to the right that was served at my kids’ San Francisco public school.

While many schools around the world are cooking home-style meals in on-site kitchens (or even outside over campfires), in the United States meals are more often made off-site by large operations churning out thousands upon thousands of meals.



http://blog.sfgate.com/sfmoms/2012/09/12/20-school-lunches-from-around-the-world/

12 replies, 2141 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply 20 school lunches from around the world. (Original post)
RandySF Oct 2012 OP
spooky3 Oct 2012 #1
RandySF Oct 2012 #5
spooky3 Oct 2012 #6
DollarBillHines Oct 2012 #2
Carnage251 Oct 2012 #3
RandySF Oct 2012 #4
FBaggins Oct 2012 #11
msongs Oct 2012 #7
DreamGypsy Oct 2012 #8
RandySF Oct 2012 #9
LWolf Oct 2012 #10
Igel Oct 2012 #12

Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:29 PM

1. Amazing - which one of these things is not like the rest?

Except for the meager fare in some of the impoverished countries, most of the meals everywhere outside the US look wonderful.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to spooky3 (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:46 PM

5. Even some of the "meager fare" is better.

I saw an African school with a bowl of beans and a piece of bread. Simple, but still nutritious.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:49 PM

6. yes, but some of the kids had nothing but a bowl of rice.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:39 PM

2. We might as well be feeding our kids living cancer cells with a side of diabetes.

I would pay good money for some of those lunches.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:41 PM

3. wtf is on the bottom left of this picture?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Carnage251 (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:44 PM

4. It's an artichoke.

Delicious!!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Carnage251 (Reply #3)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 09:32 AM

11. What an odd combination

It looks like the french fries are the main course... plus a roll and cheesecake. Then add mussels and an artichoke. Plus fresh fruit and a yogurt.

That's quite a lunch.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 09:34 PM

7. US lunches are welfare for agribusinesses peddling toxic junk nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 11:09 PM

8. HFI Heartland Foods

I must admit that when I flipped to the slide of United States. (Mrs. Q) my stomach did get a little queasy - chocolate milk, unidentifiable fruit cocktail in (undoubtedly) high fructose corn syrup, and PBJ graham cracker sandwiches. The apple juice was probably benign.

It wasn't until I read further that I discovered the actual San Francisco lunch:

That hot tray of Swedish meat balls to the right was assembled in Berkeley, Ill. (not Berkeley, CA), and made with U.S.D.A. commodities. It was then put on a truck and transported to San Francisco where a cafeteria worker heated the meal in an oven and served it along with California-grown oranges and local Berkeley Farms milk.


Seems like both lunches probably came from the same place. If you read the label on the PBJ Graham Cracker Sandwich it says "HFI Heartland Foods". I first searched for 'Heartland Foods' and came up with Heartland Food Corp - which is "the second largest Franchisees of the BURGER KING® Restaurant chain". Turns out they aren't responsible for the PBJ-GC sandwiches.

HFI Heartland Foods is a brand of Preferred Meal Systems

Preferred Meal Systems offers a total support solution for your foodservice operation. There is no equipment investment or guesswork. We provide a full service, quality component meal system or a cafeteria style service program. The meals are complemented by locally provided fresh breads and produce for wholesome, nutritional balance. Our system reduces nonessential costs, waste and provides staff training and menu planning that fulfills USDA guidelines.


located in (you guessed it)

Preferred Meal Systems, Inc.
5240 St. Charles Road
Berkeley, IL 60163

So I browsed around their website and...you know, they appear to be doing (or at least trying to do) the right thing: nutritional information, wholesome meals, sustainability, parental access to menus in their children's schools,...all that good information. I applaud this company for (at least on the surface) responsibly filling a need. But, yes, they are "an off-site by large operation churning out thousands upon thousands of meals" for schools, nursing homes, and other institutions.

We live in a culture where "cooking home-style meals in on-site kitchens (or even outside over campfires)" doesn't happen. There are probably a lot of reasons for this...among them cost, labor availability, health requirements, risk of litigation,.... We live in a time when economies of scale tend to dominate what might seem more reasonable alternatives.

I am not judging anything here. The post was good - it got me thinking about the problem. The results I found were not what I expected. Maybe this thread will stimulate some conversation about where we are, who we are, and where we want to be.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to DreamGypsy (Reply #8)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 11:54 PM

9. I think the differences in lunches illustrate one point.

In another lifetime, I dated a woman from Peru who came to work for a US company. She was shocked by what passes for lunch here. She said that in her country, lunch was the most important meal of the day and "not just a sandwich". A lot of the meals in the blog (at least those in the more affluent countries) demonstrated that. When lunch is over, the kids' stomachs are FULL of nutritious body and brain building food.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Original post)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 09:16 AM

10. Made off-site and too often JUNK.

When I've asked about the poor quality of the food, here are the answers I've gotten:

1. Kids like junk. If fewer kids buy lunch, the lunch program can't support itself. Kids buy pizza, hamburgers, etc..

2. The lunches have to deliver enough calories; there are more calories in higher-fat junk, which provides required calories with less food....

It's not quite as bad in my current state/district as it was in the previous. Here, there is a bar with fresh fruits and vegetables to add to the junkie entree. Sometimes salads are available.

Edited to add:

I remember a time when our school cafeterias included actual kitchens, cooked fresh food, and served them on real plates with real flatware that got washed and re-used, instead of generating mountains of trash every day. It hasn't always been like this.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to RandySF (Original post)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 09:55 PM

12. I've never seen prepackaged PBJs.

In fact, we don't allow peanuts in the district I work in.

Or the one my wife used to work in.

Found out Friday I was in violation of school policy last year when i had mini-Snickers in my classroom to reward the occasional instance of exceptional behavior. Peanuts.

Most of the lunches in the cafeteria looked no better or worse than most of the ones from other countries. Overcooked veggies (that artichoke is on its last legs), mystery meat, stuff in little plastic bottles. It really doesn't matter if you stew the meat to mush in a commissary or over a camp fire; it doesn't matter if you've cooked the veggies to mush on-site or not. But they usually come with something fresh(er) on the side--more often than not some sort of salad, perhaps cole slaw or a fruit--and some dose of starch (rice, bread, pasta).

I work in a large high school. They make most of their food on site, even if that just means opening up the 50-lb bags of Krusteaz and mixing it with water before baking.


That's true in the two districts I have experience with, where I used to live in Oregon, and where I went to school in MD.

More problematic is, say, the narrowness of the American kid's tastes. Not compelled to eat some of everything when they're small, but to pick and choose the few things they and their friends want, when they get to school they continue to have a restricted diet. Too much work making kids do what they should. Easier to let them do what they want.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread