I’m the principal of Umejima Elementary School
in Adachi-ku, Tokyo. My name is Atsushi Ebara. Not at all. Students from grade 1 to 6 have the exact same duties. They all dish out food, but with grade 1 and 2’s the teachers sometimes support and assist. But by the time they’re in grade six, they are able to do everything. – Put your hands together.
– Okay. Itadakimasu (I humbly receive). The purpose and the role of kyushoku (school lunch program) are for the students to learn that to have a healthy body, eating is very important. Secondly, to experience our own food culture through kyushoku. Lastly to appreciate the hard work of many people
who are involved in making kyushoku from farmers, to kitchen staff, to anyone who helps. All the homeroom teachers eat with their students in the classroom. Teacher, what do we have next period? Teacher, teacher! A test. Teacher, the camera is facing towards you, so do like this. I wouldn’t do such a bad manered thing. As a principal, I have to eat and check the food
before it’s served to the children. So I barely have the chance to eat with children. I’m Rie Kuwabara, the school nutritionist. In our school, we have a staff of 12. But with me, there are 13 people working on the school’s lunch. There are 634 children in the school, but we have lots of staff, so we make 690 meals in total. We have food from all over, but basically the vegetables are domestic and come from the Kanto and even Shikoku areas. Today I’m introducing food from Kochi prefecture. Ginger chicken. In Kochi they grow ginger. Ginger’s essence prevents us from being sick. Guruni (stew). In Tosa dialect, guru means friends getting together. This stew is called guruni because various vegetables are gathered and cooked together. Basically, ingredients are domestic, but on some occasions, some ingredients are processed in foreign countries. But basically, fish, meat, vegetables —
fresh ingredients — are domestic. We buy local ingredients, it’s delivered, and we cook it. They pick it like this, all four of them. How is it? Hard? Difficult? Difficult. Yeah, difficult. I teach kids that by eating, we take life from vegetables so that
we can live (and we must appreciate this). Students don’t help cook the food, but the 1st and 2nd graders help peel vegetables like broad beans, corn, and green peas. Today, 8th graders came to my farm to do their work experience. Tomorrow for their kyshoku’s edamame rice dish, the edamame they’re working on will be used. Ah, thank you! It will be used in the school lunch’s salad. Ah. Is it okay if I eat it? Yes, go ahead. Yes, very sweet. These are called fruit tomatoes. Every month I plan the menu one month in advance. First of all, I write down what vegetables are in season so that I can cook food that’s in season. Secondly, there is event food every month. For example, next month is Tanabata (seasonal festival). So I’m planning food for the event. Lastly, we don’t want to use meat many days in a row. For example, I don’t want to offer chicken today,
and then pork the next day, so I try to put on the menu fish,
then meat, then egg, then tofu. I try to take turns using those ingredients. And the basic thing is that I have to
offer a certain amount of nutrition. This is regulated by the city. So I try to hit 100% of the required nutritional targets. Are there any ingredients or menus that the kids don’t like? And do you repeat those items
or do you try to change them? Because they’re young chidren,
there are things they don’t like, and there are so many things they’ve never
eaten before, so they don’t want to touch it. So on the day they see ingredients for the first time, they can be very honest and there’s a lot left behind. Then that day I get so down, but when they get used to the food,
they’ll eat it, and I want them to expand their expsoure to different types of food. However I try not to be down, and I’ll
once again offer the food they don’t like, trying to change the flavour a little bit, change how it’s cooked, trying different approaches. Do you offer dessert? Dessert, yes I offer it, but it’s not everyday. It’s on special occasions. And so, one thing we do is use fruits
to mark the change in seasons. For example, this month it’s
watermelons and cantaloupes. And at our school we have birthday lunches. So each month the birthday kids
get jelly for their special dessert. So I think dessert can be something
they look forward to. At Umejima Elementary School,
what’s your favourite school lunch menu? What would you say? Today’s hard worker, Kasuya-san. Fried rice with sweet sauce. Really? And so…. Ou-san. It’s curry. Ah, me too! Ahhh, curry! We don’t cook the same menu item more than once a month. For example, curry and rice is very popular, but I can’t make it every week. I can offer it once a month, or once every two months, but I wouldn’t offer it twice in the same month. But compared to other menu items,
I schedule it more often. I can totally understand how people would think that. In reality, it’s nothing like that, it’s like any other public school in Japan. It’s not like there are a lot of wealthy people living here. When the school was rebuilt, Adachi city and the local people wished for a nice school (for the children). The rebuild happened during the bubble,
so they had a good budget, but it’s nothing special,
it’s a regular public school. But isn’t this school’s lunch special? Is this school’s lunch special?
No it’s not special. As for the families that can’t afford
the school lunch fee, basically for low-income households, in Japan we have a social welfare system that will provide the fees. Adachi city has an Oishi Kyushoku
(tasty school lunch program) because the percentage of adults living in
Adachi with obesity and diaebetes is high. So with kyushoku we want to educate kids that to have a healthy body,
eating healthy is important. So Adachi city started the program so kids could
learn the importance of healthy habits by eating and enjoying tasty food. In Adachi, once a month there’s
an Oishi Kyushoku meeting that nutritionists from the
104 schools in my city attend. We gather altogether in one place to
exchange ideas and menu plans. As part of their summer homework parents and
children design their own bentos at home. We pick out the best ones and include them
in the kyushoku menu. We then invite the community to come and
eat the chosen menus together. Thanks for the food. Look left! Even if I have to work harder, struggling to come up with good menus, when the kids react well and say tasty, when they say they’re able to eat
food they previously didn’t like, that makes me feel like it was worth the effort.