We went to observe the school lunch program at the Inakoshi primary school in Ichikawa this morning.
We met with the dietitian of the school who introduced us the school lunch system in Japan, where dietitians are involved in every primary and secondary school. The responsibility of dietitians in schools is to provide nutrition education through the school lunch program, foster desirable eating habits, and advocate for a healthy diet for families and the community. Their job includes managing the school lunch, giving nutrition education to students and providing counselling and alternative food options for those with food allergies. The dietitian showed the food guidelines for that school, in which she set objectives and made teaching plans for students in different grades. She also made the meal plan for each month throughout the whole year, incorporating seasonal foods and considering school events. Each specific meal plan needs to fulfill the energy and nutrition requirement set by the government. The lunch for today was steamed rice, small roasted fish, eggplant with pork, white gourd, “miso” soup, citrus jelly and milk. There was also a food tray display at the entrance area, so that when moms come to pick up their children, they have the chance to check the foods eaten and have some knowledge of the healthy seasonal vegetables. The lunch meals for about 200 students/staff are prepared by 6 workers working in the school kitchen.
We attended the nutrition class given by the dietitian to the students in grade 6 on how to taste food (she used a peach confectionery) by using the five senses. She discussed in a very lively manner how sensation affects the eating experience. The students showed a high interest in this topic. At lunch time, the food was served by a team of 5 students from the class. The serving group had to take the food (and cutlery) for the whole class from the kitchen. Before serving, they washed their hands, put on white coats, masks and caps. After lunch, they also cleaned and wiped the tables, and disposed of the garbage for cycling. We were so impressed by the school lunch program in Japan. We think it is a good way to build healthy eating habits among children! How we wish this system could be run in Canada in the future!
In the afternoon, we visited the Fujitsu clinic, a medical facility for employees and their families, in Musashinakahara and we were briefed by the company dietitian on the most common nutrition-related health problems of employees. She also showed us the online assessment forms that employees fill in before their appointments with her and she was happy to report that the nutrition counselling she provides seem to be effective in alleviating some of the health issues. We were also welcomed to visit the Fujitsu Technology Hall where we witnessed the technological progress the company is making particularly in the computer and telecommunication technologies. Of particular interest was the new “Wandant”, a kind of pedometer/health recorder for pet dogs which can monitor their physical activity and some health measures such as body temperature.