Photo, above: Michelle Obama’s idea of what an American public school student should have for lunch

The school lunches that shame America: Photos reveal just how meager US students’ meals are compared to even the most cash-strapped of nations

  • Korean schools serve hearty fish soup and fermented cabbage, kimchi while Greece, Spain and France all serve fresh meat, vegetables and fish 
  • However, students in the world’s richest nation lunches are the unhealthiest with lots of processed items
  • The contrasts between America’s school meals and those in far less fortunate economies are stark and suggest Michelle Obama’s push for more healthful lunches nationwide may not be giving kids enough to eat

Whereas a kid in France might be treated to a juicy steak and a hunk of brie, the richest country in the world’s youths are more likely to receive unidentified meat served alongside little more than a starch like white pasta, fries or a roll.

The contrasts between America’s school meals and those in far less fortunate economies are stark and suggest Michelle Obama’s push for more healthful lunches nationwide may not be enough.

What is it? School lunches in the United States stand in stark contrast to the wholesome and in some cases even decadent meals served to kids in other markedly less fortunate nations

The first new school lunch standards championed by Michelle Obama have been phased in over the last several school years.

In addition to whole grain requirements, the rules set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on foods in the lunch line and beyond. While many schools have had success putting the rules in place, others have said they are too restrictive and costly.

Backlash against the rules have spawned a wave of social media photos along with the tag #thanksMichelleObama. If these pictures are any indication, schools have responded to the rules by cutting down on portions to reduce fat and calories rather than by using potentially more costly ingredients.

Meanwhile, the widely different meals from Spain, Ukraine, Greece, South Korea, Brazil, France, Finland and Italy are all fresh and wholesome, with fish, steak and vegetables featuring prominently.

Balanced diet: Italian children get pasta, fish, two kinds of salad, rocket and caprese, a bread roll and grapes (courtesy Sweetgreen)

 

South Korean children tuck into broccoli and peppers, fried rice with tofu, fermented cabbage and fish soup

South Korean children tuck into broccoli and peppers, fried rice with tofu, fermented cabbage and fish soup

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Brie, green beans, carrot, rare steak and pudding of kiwi fruit and apples is served in French schools 

A meal of traditional flavours: Brazil's rice and black beans, baked plantain, pork with peppers and coriander, green salad and a seeded roll

Wholesome: Seeded roll, shrimp with brown rice, gazpacho and tri-colour peppers. Dessert is half an orange

Greek school lunches feature baked chicken with orzo, stuffed grape leaves, salad of cucumber and tomatoes, yogurt with pomegranate seeds and two oranges

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