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There was a fascinating piece on the Op-Ed page of Saturday’s edition of The New York Times that compared average school lunches in a variety of nations.

  • In Russia, a student eats beef, potato and wheat soup, boiled rice, mandarin orange compote, wheat bread, rye bread, and fresh tomato -- described as “whole grains and fresh fruit (that) enliven this hearty selection.”

  • French students eat ham and lentils, salad with tomatoes, corn, soy and gruyere, yogurt with sugar, baguette slices, banana and water -- described as so robust that children there get their “five a day” on a single tray.

  • In Mexico, students eat meat, rice, corn and squash, horchata (water mixed with oatmeal and sugar), and an apple -- “a big dose of starch, but very little sugar or fat.”

  • South Korean children are offered rice, chicken soup, squid with hot sauce, fried sweet potatoes, and radish kimchi -- which is “high in flavor, low in fat, and varied enough to keep even finicky eaters interested.”

  • And finally, in the US, an average school lunch consists of pot roast, mashed potatoes, broccoli, apple and milk -- “The gravy and chocolate milk may go down easy, but they don’t do much to enhance the nutritional value of this fat-heavy meal.”
KC's View:
There may not be much that food retailers and manufacturers can do about the fact that American students are getting such lousy nutrition at school, but it seems to us that it is our responsibility to find ways to help kids eat better at home.

We’re astounded by the crap -- there’s no better word to describe it -- that gets served to our kids at school. Often, it hardly even looks like food, and we can’t even imagine what it tastes like. Parents have an obligation to do more to help their kids eat better…and it strikes us that this is an enormous opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to help.