Food Education International
The Delicious World of Food Education
Recently I read Janet Poppendieck’s “Free for All: Fixing School Food in America”, which is an excellent overview and assessment of the real-world problems and bureaucracy impacting school food and food education in the United States. Among the many questions that it raised (more on that in future blog posts), it got me thinking about salaries and qualifications for the food service sector.
The past few weeks I’ve seen a few articles pop up in my notifications about how Japanese schools are encouraging activities for students to make their own plates and bowls for school lunch use. After all, it’s nice to eat from something you made.
Unlike many countries which begin their school year in the autumn, Japan begins the school year in April. Spring is the time for new beginnings after al!. For students it is not just new books and getting used to, for first graders who may not have experienced “kyushoku” (school lunch) before, today is a momentous day - their first official day experiencing school lunch in school.
The Farm Bill is the most consequential yet unfamiliar pieces of legislation before Congress today. The bill’s reach is one of the most influential factors to our physical health as a nation. And it is at risk of budget cuts. Now is the time to fight for the Farm Bill and do something extraordinary – improve our country’s culture of food.
1 in 7 children in Japan live in poverty (14%). This figure is considered high compared to other developed countries and was the impetus behind the passage of the 2013 “Child Poverty Prevention Law.” Under this law, the government and prefectures develop policies to combat poverty of children, in addition to researching and promoting supportive measures. This year marks 5 years since the passage of this law.
In Shiraoi a School Lunch Center has been developed with disaster mitigation in mind. The facility operates as a normal school lunch center, but also has the space and services to stock-pile food for times of disaster. The facilities was supported by a subsidy from the local government and operates according to normal standards set forth by the government, including incorporating the “dry system” of food preparation, subdivision of work rooms, and a special room and assigned staff designated to create meals for those with allergies. In the creation of this facility, Shiraoi Town is tackling two big challenges currently facing the school lunch system - how to efficiently cope with allergies - and how to ensure that during times of disaster lunch centers can be used as resources by the general public.
If you talk to someone in the food preparation world in Japan, they will often talk about the “Dry Method” when it comes to meal preparation. Dry is now the norm in school lunch centers throughout Japan, but that implies that there was once a “wet system” - which indeed there was!
Make School Lunch!
Nourishing Japan Trailer
Check out Nourishing Japan, an in-the-works documentary about food education in Japan, and the people who make it possible!