Japan's humble school lunch: social leveler and sacred cow

The Japan Times 

On Oct. 25, the education department of Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, sent notices to the city's 30 elementary schools and 13 junior high schools saying that school lunches would not be served on Dec. 20 and Jan. 12. The reason, it said, was a sharp increase in the price of vegetables owing to bad weather this past summer. The budget was overburdened, and the department felt that the two days selected would have the least negative impact on students because Dec. 20 was the last school day of the year and Jan. 12 was the first school day of 2017, so schedules would be irregular anyway. This very local news received a fair amount of coverage in the national press, and some media called the city for further clarification. As it turns out, the hot lunch program for Suzuka's schools was running a net deficit.