Thursday, November 30, 2017

Want to eat Healthy? Take lesson from a Japanese Kid.

I have been a beneficiary of World Food Program (WFP) the whole of my school life. WFP supports Bhutan in providing free meals to school going children even to this day. I fondly remember senior students walk out of the class to unload the truck full of bags marked with WFP logo. The tin fish that was considered a special meal was served only once a week. You would be pleasantly surprised if I say we would spot little bugs and weevils in the cooked dal. I ain’t kidding here! But then it wouldn’t bother us much because there were kids who might not get to eat otherwise. The school meal gave parents a reason to send their children to school then. We would gladly pick it, throw and continue eating. The school would receive the rations in bulk. Due to the poor storage facilities, the items would get infested easily. I also coincidentally happened to work with School Health and Nutrition Division under Ministry of Education after my graduation for little over a year. Working in organizations/corporations didn’t happen. The division looks after the school feeding program in Bhutan with the support of WFP. The quality of meals today is a far cry from the meals during my time. Today WFP supported schools receive more than 10 different food items. The rations would go to schools on the quarterly basis today thereby avoiding food infestation.

 School lunch in Japan is little different from what I have experienced. Lunch programs are designed in such a way that students not only fill up their tummy and sleep in the class but to help them understand what constitutes a nutritionally balanced meal whilst learning the fundamentals of proper eating and table manners. It’s the healthiest meal you would ever eat (not always the yummiest though). The menus for a month are planned in advance by a school nutritionist and chefs. They ensure healthy and delicious lunch. Some items are prepared at the school kitchen whereas some are outsourced to a company that serves several elementary schools in that same area.