The Japan That Japanese Don't Know:The School Lunch Program
The nation-wide school lunch program in Japan is noteworthy not only for its nutritional accomplishments, but also for its educational, social, and cultural aspects. The most significant feature of the Japanese school lunch program is not only its concern with the management and nutritional aspects of the food served in schools but also its integration of the school meal into children’s educational, social, and cultural experience. This integration is facilitated in a number of ways. Meals are served by children themselves in the setting of the classroom, making lunch part of the educational continuum of the day. More importantly, aspects of the meal are incorporated into instruction, for instance by having students investigate the origins, sources, and traditions of the food they are eating. Children are introduced directly or indirectly to the producers and preparers of their food, making them aware of the agricultural, economic, and social connections of their lunch. The links of their food with cultural traditions are also presented, with attention to distinctive Japanese foods and methods of preparation, regional and seasonal specialties, as well as the role food plays in festivals, traditional holidays and so on.
The purpose of this collection of articles and essays is to increase the Japanese public’s recognition of the value and significance of the program that they themselves have developed as a society for their children and to make nutrition experts, education professionals, policymakers, and others around the world aware of the special qualities of the Japanese school lunch program that they may wish to emulate. It is hoped that by highlighting the features of the Japanese school lunch program, this volume will lead to the strengthening of the program in its home country and to the consideration of culturally and socially oriented school meal programs around the world.