The Cultures of Lunchtime

Eating your lunch every day at school can benefit your brain and help you learn more — when you're full from a good meal it allows your concentration and memory to be improved. It is a universal understanding that the lunch period is very important for students. Lunch is important for the academic benefits and necessary break during the school day that allows students to recharge and come back with a stronger attitude and fierceness in learning. Different cultures have different perspectives on how food should be viewed and treated. The school day is long and requires a break from classes to regain some fuel and enjoy some food. The approach to lunch time is different, surrounding different cultures and priorities. We will be looking at how Germany, Japan, and Cuba approach lunch time in schools. Due to different cultural values, the lunch period is used and approached differently. Germany has a casual attitude towards lunch, while Japan uses it to implement more learning opportunities for students, and Cuba is following another country’s guidelines.

German culture traditionally makes lunch the biggest meal of the day. The German mentality towards food is one that has a relaxed attitude towards eating. There is no strict meal plan nor requirements to meet every day. German schools try their best to introduce students to different kinds of food like curry, fried fish, and different vegetables. High schools have the option to purchase lunch, but it is also acceptable to bring lunch from home. It is emphasized to eat a big meal for lunch because dinner in Germany will be eaten later and will not be a huge meal since it is so close to bedtime.

Japan views lunch time differently than Germany. The culture of shokuiku (translating to “food and nutrition education”) is a program that aims at teaching students healthy eating habits. This program is mandatory for students to enroll in and it costs $2.50 per meal. All meals have to be approved by nutritionists so they meet health requirements and the food is required to be

prepared with fresh food. The importance of a cafeteria is also stressed in Japan. Making a

different space for eating is important in taking the time to consume food and have the body

understand it is refueling. The Japanese school board and government emphasizes the

importance of students having an understanding about basic nutrition. This model of having a

curriculum of understanding what food is being consumed is a model one for other countries to

follow because of the educational component.

In Cuba students receive school lunches until sixth grade. The meals they receive usually consist of rice, a stew, and maybe some meat. Cuba is required to follow the United States of America Department of Agricultural Guidelines when preparing lunches. The culture of bringing food from home is more widely accepted than it is in Japan.

All three of these countries value food and their break in the middle of the school day in different ways, but are united in the idea that students should eat a balanced meal in order to achieve academic success.

Works Cited :

Appel, Deirdre, and Deirdre Appel. “Japan's School Lunch Program Serves

Nutritious Meals.” NYC Food Policy Center (Hunter College), Hunter College

New York City Food Policy Center, 11 Mar. 2021,


Porter, Erin. “Food at German Schools.” German, Humboldt American Press, 17

Feb. 2016,

Robinson, Circles. “Let's Improve School Lunches in Cuba.” Havana Times, 1

Sept. 2019,

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