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Schools urged to modify lunches for religious needs as foreign population grows

The Japan Times

With foreign residents on the rise in Japan, schools and day care facilities are being called on to give more consideration to the dietary restrictions faced by people with different religious backgrounds. While such restrictions are increasingly being recognized, few schools and day care facilities are offering alternatives such as halal food in lunches served to children. Though government guidelines exist for removing foods that trigger allergies, many schools are having difficulty coping as no such rules exist for religious restrictions. In Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, a Bangladeshi couple pulled their 5-year-old daughter from day care as it did not respond to their special lunch requests. The girl joined the private facility in April 2017.

As rains lead to thousands of school meals being binned, Hiroshima weighs how to cut waste

The Japan Times

A 30-year-old female reader in Hiroshima contacted the Chugoku Shimbun one day to convey her frustration that school lunches are thrown away when schools shut down due to heavy rain. "I heard that whenever elementary and junior high schools are canceled after a heavy rain warning is issued, school lunches prepared for that day are thrown away," she wrote to the newspaper using the messaging app Line. "It is sad to hear, as food waste has become a problem." On June 7, a heavy rain warning was issued in the city of Hiroshima. According to the city's board of education, 101 elementary schools as well as 40 junior high schools closed.

Impact of Japan's school shutdowns has 70% of parents concerned: survey

The Japan Times

About 70 percent of parents are worried about the impact the nationwide school shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak is having on their children, a survey by a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization showed recently. Respondents cited children's mental stress from changes to their daily routine as well as insufficient exercise among their major worries, according to the online poll by Florence, a government-approved child welfare aid group, which surveyed 8,339 parents from March 6 to 9. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late last month called on all elementary, junior high and high schools across the country to close through early April, forcing parents to find ways to keep their children occupied at home. Among parents who said they are "anxious" or "very anxious," 69.9 percent cited children's lack of exercise as a main factor. Stress from not being able to meet with friends and disruption of studies, both at around 57 percent, came next. More than 50 percent of respondents also cited a dearth of places for kids to stay or play during the day.

This Bill Could Make More Kids Obese--and No One Is Talking About It

Mother Jones

You probably haven't heard much about it with the presidential election sucking up all the oxygen, but US lawmakers are mulling one of the nation's most important and influential pieces of food legislation: a once-every-five years bill that sets the the budget and rules for school meals. And it hasn't been a very appetizing process. In a recent episode of Bite--the new podcast I host with colleagues Kiera Butler and Maddie Oatman--the excellent school-lunch analyst and blogger Bettina Elias Siegel lamented that there's no push to increase our miserly annual outlay on the lunch program, which serves about 30.5 million kids each school day. Currently, we spend about 13 billion in federal dollars on it each year--equal to about 2 percent of annual defense spending. That leaves cafeteria administrators with a bit more than a dollar per meal to spend on ingredients, leading to generally dismal quality food, often served reheated from a box.

Over 3,400 students and teachers suffer food poisoning near Tokyo

The Japan Times

Saitama – More than 3,400 elementary and junior high school students and teachers have contracted food poisoning at 15 schools near Tokyo due to school lunches, local authorities said Thursday. Students started to complain of food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain on June 26 after they ate school lunches including fried chicken and seaweed salad at their schools in Yashio, Saitama Prefecture. Concluding that the food poisoning was caused by school lunches supplied by lunch deliverer Tobu Kyushoku Center, the prefectural government ordered the company to suspend use of its kitchens for three days. As the number of students suffering food poisoning increased, 377 students were absent from schools on Monday, though none of them were in serious condition. E. coli bacteria was detected in the feces of some patients by a local health center.