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With Malaysia’s unique location and culturally diverse background, students get to choose from an array of lip-smacking dishes with Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Thai influences in their school canteens, from curry soups to dal and everything in between. Lunch is also commonly brought to school by students and usually consists of rice or noodles as the main dish, a fresh fruit or vegetable, and a drink. (Photo: Yiie/Flickr)

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Can We Have Some? What School Lunches Look Like Around the World

August 29, 2014

By Catherine Stark

Memories of childhood school days inevitably lead to thoughts of lunches in the cafeteria — for better or for worse. Whether your school served up "prison food" or heavenly junk food, lunchtime was a chance to gather with friends to gossip and wreak havoc on a plate of fries and shared ketchup — or, if you were unfortunate, to be forced to give your lunch over to the class bully.

School lunches are a popular topic among state and national education and health boards in the United States, and schools are often criticized for failing to provide a balanced meal; parents and the public are continually promised changes to come. But despite the best efforts of people like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and British chef Jamie Oliver to highlight just how improperly fed students are and to attempt to change the system, most students in the U.S. are still living on unhealthy food that's somehow passed off as healthy, including shocking examples of fries and ketchup being considered a daily serving of "vegetables."

However, school students in many nations around the world don’t suffer from the same issues. Forget the mac and cheese, pizza slices, chicken nuggets, and soda. They're replaced by dishes like grilled fish (Japan), kimchi (Korea), and green pea soup (Finland), all delicious enough to entice kids to eat. Here’s a sampling of what students in other countries are eating.

Click here to see even more school lunches from around the world.

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