school lunchesDid you know that on an average day, around 32 million children in the U.S. eat food from the school cafeteria. Most of these kids get over half of their daily caloric intake at school as well. Sweetgreen—a chain of salad restaurants that runs a Sweetgreen in Schools program to teach kids about healthy eating, fitness, and sustainability—wanted to shed light on what we should be serving up as healthy meals by taking a look at typical school lunches around the world. How does the U.S. measure up? Not favorably, it seems.

Schools have the opportunity to be one of the biggest proponents against childhood obesity. They should motivate kids to each real, nutritious food, and help them make healthy choices in their cafeterias. From Italy to Brazil to South Korea, lunch trays are piled with enriching foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, and flavorful, yet healthy entrees. However, as you’ll see through the photos, the U.S. has a long way to go in evolving from the processed lunches we’ve been serving to our youngest generations.

Sweetgreen hopes to make an impact by sparking a dialogue about changing the way future generations eat through this visual documentation. Here’s to a future of healthy eating habits for our children!


school lunchesLocal fish on a bed of arugula, pasta with tomato sauce, caprese salad, baguette and some grapes.


school lunches

Pea soup, beet salad, carrot salad, bread and pannakkau (dessert pancake) with fresh berries.


school lunches

Steak, carrots, green beans, cheese and fresh fruit.


school lunches

Pork with mixed veggies, black beans and rice, salad, bread and baked plantains.

South Korea

school lunches

Fish soup, tofu over rice, kimchi and fresh veggies.


school lunches

Baked chicken over orzo, stuffed grape leaves, tomato and cucumber salad, fresh oranges, and greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds.


school lunches

Mashed potatoes with sausage, borscht, cabbage and syrniki (a dessert pancake).


school lunches

Sautéed shrimp over brown rice and vegetables, gazpacho, fresh peppers, bread and an orange.


school lunches

Photos via Sweetgreen on Tumblr; h/t My Modern Met

Fried ‘popcorn’ chicken, mashed potatoes, peas, fruit cup and a chocolate chip cookie.

Read more Photo of the Day posts here.

What surprised you the most about these school lunches?