How US school lunches now compare to other countries

Since it’s Friday in Lent, here’s a food post.

There is a great post that compares the school lunches in different countries.  The point is to show what FLOTUS has done to children in these USA.


USA (post Michelle Obama):

lunch 01




lunch 02




lunch 03



lunch 04

See the rest of them over there.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. RAve says:

    The cynic might suggest that our First Lady is just doing her part to ensure these US of A continue to be worthy of ridicule on the world stage.

    Another reason to homeschool.

  2. Faith says:

    Wait. Isn’t our lunch, their dinner? If it’s their largest meal of the day, then the comparison isn’t fair.

  3. teachermom24 says:

    With all due respect (and acknowledgment of the depraved diet of most Americans promoted by the US government), this is not a real representation of lunches around the world:

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    I have to agree with teachermom24. This appears to be what a chef believes to be the school lunches in those parts of the world. I do agree with the post-apocalyptic meal from the Obama Administration though.

    Interestingly enough, I rarely bought school lunch even back in the day of the large, greasy wedge of pizza, jumbo canned peas, and jumbo boxed potato flakes. True, you did get more food for the money, but it tasted just awful. Mom was more than happy to pack a nice lunch for me. Consequently, my wife does the same for our kids- even though they attend a Catholic School. The moral of this story: Never trust the feeding of your children to someone else. The same could also be said for their education.

  5. benedetta says:

    Just yet another reason establishing that when a family opts to homeschool, the world is truly their oyster!

  6. HeatherPA says:

    Thanks for the link teachermom24.

    I legit laughed in delight at some of the posted photographs in the combox, especially the one someone posted of a “North Korea” lunch tray.

    I now have to go to Confession. That was way too much fun for Lenten times.

  7. Admiral-GER says:

    @Father Z.: your “Brazil” is in fact “South Korea”?

  8. In fairness to Mrs. Obama, school lunches in the U.S.A. weren’t all that great before she got involved. Not that she’s improved anything.

    School lunches are always going to be lame because of the whole nature of the thing. Several hundred kids, a relatively small staff, everything has to be served quickly, not a lot of room for choices. Everything has to be fairly bland. Everything has to be very familiar. The reason you don’t have as much fresh stuff as people like to see? It rots quickly. And nowadays, the lunch ladies have to navigate all these allergies spawned by hyper-hygiene.

    And don’t forget, a lot of what drives school lunches is the government’s desire to distribute various farm surplus products.

    FWIW, I don’t believe those pictures of other nations’ lunches.

  9. benedetta says:

    That set of photos may be just a “visual facsimile” of menus for a political purpose, however it is of course true that children eat much better as a general rule, both in public schools and for the most part at home as well, in most places in Europe as compared to the USA. I am sure there is a complex of reasons for this.

    I will reiterate my homeschooling plug here, however, as a mother and a teacher. The wonderful thing about homeschool lunch, even if it is relatively modest, or, hey, pb & honey on wheat for an Ember Day in Lent with a chaser of milk, the fact is that little ones homeschooling may learn to prepare their own simple meals at every stage from toddler right through the teen years, which is an excellent life skill to develop for anyone, and the preparation is a hands on activity which can encompass many learning areas as well, from literacy to science to math to a whole host of other content areas — a great many homeschoolers grow or raise some aspect of what they eat even if just a tomato or a little lettuce here and there. Catholic homeschoolers may also discuss in their meal planning the fact that the day is an Ember Day, a Friday in Lent, or whatever the day, feast or memorial it may be.

    I’m sure it would be lovely to be a public school student in France and have a lovely slice of brie and baguette for lunch, however, nothing beats being a Catholic homeschooler in these US of A who spreads his own p.b. at lunch time! Blessed Lenten Ember Day to all…

  10. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Benedetta,

    While homeschooling may be an ideal, it is not possible for every child for a variety of reasons, including the fact that not every parent is temperamentally or scholastically competent to homeschool and that some children benefit from being in a school environment.

  11. I have seen comparisons of peoples diets around the world before. It is not just school children in this country that have poor diets. Ours is always seen as a diet of boxes, bottles, and cans; while many poorer countries eat food that has its origins from fields, and trees, the sea. Whenever zi see these comparisons I am always a little envious

  12. KAS says:

    Some of us actually avoid processed goods and eat a very carefully thought out and very healthy diet. The nice part about the pretty meals representing the other countries is how much closer in part to my own diet they happen to be. Ours is fast and easy and nutrient dense– there is NO excuse for the miserable mess they serve in public schools.

    Of course, what I feed my children would probably be too healthy to be accepted by an obamified school, but it isn’t an issue as I teach my own.

  13. ocalatrad says:

    Welcome to the USSSA!

    I get indigestion just recalling what they used to serve us for school lunch. Yick! My best friend and I would drop our “brownies” from a foot up to gauge how high they’d bounce. We joked that they could be the next revolutionary building material or home insulation. Our “pizza” slices were rubbery like Michelin tires. We were lucky to get a half pint of milk from our dilapidated cartons after the amount of dripping and leakage they always exhibited.

    Having spent my summers in France in college, I can attest to the far superior quality of even ordinary cafeteria food in relation to ours here.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Having eaten many times in schools in France and England, (one of my friends runs a private Catholic school in France), I can tell you that the food is better, tastier, and more abundant. It is also healthier.

    FLOTUS and her feminist types are anti-family, anti-child, and racist. This has nothing to do with money but with an agenda of getting people used to “prison food”. American education is bumping at the bottom in several subjects and the food served will not help students work hard at school.

    The main meal of the day in most countries is not mid-day, by the way. I can also attest to that living in Europe altogether more than 13 years. Some countries have the main meal in the evening.

    One cannot make a gross overstatement on that cultural fact.

    Americans better wake up soon that the agenda is to do away with the middle class and have a rich, privileged class and an under class of slaves–see the Time Machine for an allegory. This will happen here, as people are purposefully being trodden upon with such things as this disgusting menu from the Ms.

  15. dans0622 says:

    We should compare past US school lunches to today’s. I don’t really know what they serve these days. 20-25 years ago, we’d have a rotation of 15-20 main courses (pizza, fish sticks, hamburger, spaghetti, pork, chicken, etc.) with the typical vegetable (potato, corn, peas…), bread, milk. It seemed fine to me.

    As for the photos, that’s a lot of kimchi. Fortunately, it looks a little weak.

  16. mburn16 says:

    Not a fan of homeschooling. Sorry, but kids need everyday frequent interaction with other kids, because they can’t spend the duration of their lives in a bubble. The kids they go to school with are the kids ththey’ll go to college with are the adults they will work with. Whatever the faults of the US school system and culture (they are many) They still reflect the modern world children need to be able to function in

  17. ckdexterhaven says:

    In my school in the 70’s, our lunch lady was an Italian War Bride. She made homemade spaghetti sauce, and other tasty foods. This was the American Southwest, so we also had (New)Mexican food also, like homemade tortillas! I didn’t have too many complaints.

    Mburn16, I wonder how many homeschoolers you know? Your comments don’t match the reality of the many homeschool families I interact with daily.

  18. Pnkn says:

    Hello Gerard –
    Competent parents don’t home school in isolation from other families/children….

  19. La Sandia says:

    I went to a public school and occasionally ate the cafeteria food, and while no one would characterize it as gourmet, I definitely don’t remember it being THAT bad.

    Re: the homeschooling rabbit hole, there are plenty of homeschooling families who do an excellent job on both the education and “socialization” aspect. Some of the most interesting, mature, and well-adjusted people I’ve met were homeschooled, while others could have benefited from a school environment. It really comes down to the temperaments and needs of the individuals and families, and what works for some might not work for others. But some homeschoolers do need to stop talking about homeschooling as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic way to educate children.

  20. SaintJude6 says:

    I homeschool our children after having experienced the local “blue ribbon” public school. Our lunches are better. Our academics are better. The company they keep during the day is better. They have many friends through extra-curricular activities.
    Do you really work only with people born within the same twelve month period as your birthdate? That would seem to be quite unusual.

  21. YorkshireStudent says:

    It being a Lenten Friday, talk of school dinners makes me think of the rumour that (predominantly South American) Catholic countries buy in vast stocks of beaver meat to serve in schools on Lenten Fridays, as it is classed as fish rather than flesh.

    I think the nature of the exemption is correct, but can anyone shed any light on the truth of the rumour that it is used for school dinners, and in great quantities?

  22. HeatherPA says:

    I am honestly interested in knowing whether or not schools are allowed to make foods from “scratch” for students or if they have to use prepackaged/ processed foods from the School Lunch Programs

  23. RAve says:

    Home-Schooled Teens Ripe for College – Myths about unsocialized home-schoolers are false, and most are well prepped for college, experts say.

    Example: Stanford accepted 27% of homeschool applicants and 5% of traditional applicants.

  24. HeatherPA says:

    Went through before I was finished.

    If schools are using processed suggested fare from SLP contractors, then it has little to do with nutrition and a lot to do with subsidies received by the districts.

    How much better for the kids to just go back to homemade lunches made on site by the lunch ladies, paid for weekly.

  25. benedetta says:

    As to these, I am loathe to open up a rabbit hole:

    Gerard Plourde says:
    27 February 2015 at 7:50 am
    Dear Benedetta,

    While homeschooling may be an ideal, it is not possible for every child for a variety of reasons, including the fact that not every parent is temperamentally or scholastically competent to homeschool and that some children benefit from being in a school environment.


    mburn16 says:
    27 February 2015 at 9:19 am
    Not a fan of homeschooling. Sorry, but kids need everyday frequent interaction with other kids, because they can’t spend the duration of their lives in a bubble. The kids they go to school with are the kids ththey’ll go to college with are the adults they will work with. Whatever the faults of the US school system and culture (they are many) They still reflect the modern world children need to be able to function in

    As to these situations pointed out by people who feel that public schools that reflect a terrible culture are yet a superior experience for children in order to force their adaptation to it (break them?) or that some children cannot function in a homeschooling environment or that some parents cannot teach…and leaving aside the preposterous myths that says that without contemporary American public school “socialization” (lol) young people will “not be able to function” in the modern world…as someone who has taught in a wide variety of school contexts, and non school contexts —

    I say yet that you may still, wherever you are, start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) and see to it that children whom you are responsible for have all the great features of the homeschooling ideal, namely, wholesome social interactions featuring joy, lively discussion, music and stories, plenty of outdoor time, and, freshly prepared meals wherein all help out. Before you blast me about how unrealistic given all our social problems of the day that children carry into schools and everywhere bent over by The Baggage, one can look to people such as Don Bosco, Maria Montessori, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta and many, many others of our (traditional) Holy Mother Church to discover good ways to get this going for kids where you are, even if all together under one roof all at once in a common place…

  26. benedetta says:

    Will also add, to put in a word of charity towards the First Lady, I am sympathetic with her vision and hope in an ideal for freshly prepared, locally sourced, nutritious food for children in schools. Who knows, perhaps she observed European meals and was inspired. More likely, she is aware that at posh private schools in the US children have college campus or corporate dining room type experiences of fantastic meals and menus for the lunchtime consumption. Who wouldn’t want to give good food to all the children, wherever situated? One should not deny any child the experience of receiving sustenance, good food, while he or she is developing, whatever stages, even at the very earliest ones. I for one am for that.

    I think what occurred, falling short of the mark of the ideal envisioned or hoped for, and what even the most ardent Obama supporters have admitted about the school cafeteria regulations and the actual results, that children refuse to eat it, that it is inedible, not fresh etc., unappealing, unappetizing, etc., has more to do with the way that big government in this country tends to work as a general matter. Where parents are prohibited from organizing bake sales or bringing in other food for children in schools and restaurants prohibited from giving fresh, good food to homeless shelters, in favor of this mass produced inedible result of the vision, the hope has clearly been disconnected from the change.

  27. ghp95134 says:

    That USA meal reminds me of the typical military breakfast lovingly called SOS (stuff on a shingle) — minus the toast (shingle). What’s missing in that empty section is a heaping portion of grits with butter!

    Being an army brat, I attended 13 elementary schools, 1 junior high school, and 3 high schools. Some schools were on the military installation, but most were civilian. My strongest memory transcends all the schools: they all served fish sticks on Fridays for the students who might be Catholic (this was 1967 and earlier).


  28. ckdexterhaven says:

    This is what is being served at Sidwell Friends today. Where the Obama girls go. Too bad public school kids don’t get to eat like the President’s kids.
    Mushroom Barley Soup
    Firecracker Slaw
    Egg Salad
    Baked Lemon Herb Tilapia
    Tree Top Casserole
    Garlic Haricot Verts
    Garlic & Seasoned Olive Oil
    New Potatoes


  29. Marissa says:

    Garlic Haricot Verts

    Dang, it’s so fancy, they don’t even call ’em green beans!

  30. Gerard Plourde says:

    Despite the fancy language on the menu, as a Quaker school I’m sure that Sidwell Friends adheres to the laudible Quaker Testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship, often shortened to the acronym SPICES.

  31. SKAY says:

    ckdexterhaven —
    Exactly what I was thinking.

    OK for thee but not for me.

  32. ckdexterhaven says:

    Simplicity: you mean like calling it ‘haricot verts’ instead of green beans?
    Peace: like being the guy who kills thousands from drones?
    Integrity: nothing says integrity like refusing to let inner city kids from DC use vouchers to escape failing DC schools….while sending your own kids to Sidwell Friends.
    Equality: just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor!
    Stewardship: the IRS

    Here’s hoping the Obama girls will learn SPICE at school.

  33. gramma10 says:

    To avoid a possible gross lunch, the kids should bring their own.
    My grandkids do!

  34. The Cobbler says:

    I suppose “the rest over there” includes US school lunch from ten years ago for comparison?

  35. +JMJ+ says:

    I cry bull to this. US school lunches were poor before Mrs. Obama got involved, they’re poor now, although the photo in the OP certainly isn’t representative of what’s on the plate. While they certainly have declined in quality over the past decade, it’s because of the fact that schools are required to keep a fixed per-student cost, while the cost of food continues to rise. When my oldest started school in 2004 (yes, at a Catholic school), everything on his plate was homemade every day. By the time my youngest finished 8th grade at that same school last spring (10 years later), everything was pre-prepared, except for just a few meals a month. During that time, our out-of-pocket cost for lunch rose at a much lower rate than did the food cost.

    While it may be politicized, Mrs. Obama should receive kudos for selecting an important issue as the focus of her time in the limelight. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that for so many poor children, these lunches, the associated school breakfasts, and (at the school where my dad spent the last 20 years of his career as principal, at least) the associated church-run soup kitchens in the gym are the only food those children get during the school year. If school isn’t in session, then frequently they don’t eat. Yet we’re serving them very poorly-balanced food.

  36. jflare says:

    mburn, I think your appraisal rather..problematic.
    I don’t think I’ve actually crossed paths with anyone I knew in elementary school or high school in at least 15 years. In some cases, that’s just as well!

    As I recall, I didn’t make to either my 5-year or 10-year high school reunions. Come to think of it, 20 years went by two years ago. Oops.
    Wonder if I’ll be able to make it in three years for the 25th…?

  37. jflare says:

    I’m don’t really understand that last part of your comment about SPICE, but I’d suspect that the Obama girls stand a decent chance of eventually learning about the Spice Girls, in all their infamy.
    Hopefully they will learn to act rather differently.

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