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The provision of school food in 18 countries

July 2008
An extension to the earlier paper 'School meal provision in England and other Western countries: a review'.

This paper is an extension to ‘School meal provision in England and other Western countries: a review’, chapter 5: Current provision of school lunch in Western countries.

This paper adds information on the provision of school food in ten countries to the eight previously covered. For each country, a brief history of school meals, Government subsidies or funding, catering providers, cost, free school meals (FSMs), take up and the dining experience have been reviewed where possible.

The report reveals that although many cultural and economic differences exist between the countries, some common themes emerge surrounding the provision of school food.

Take up is highest in countries such as Finland (95%) and Sweden (85%) where full Government funding is provided and free meals are available to all. Take up is also high in Japan (85%) where the cost of the ingredients is borne by the parents but labour and all other associated costs are funded by LAs. Take up is lowest where Government funding is restricted, for example in Canada (9.1%) where the vast majority take packed lunches and in Australia where FSMs are not available. School meals are also popular in Italy where the school lunch is seen as central to their social education and development. Similar philosophies are supported in Japan and Finland. In addition, packed lunches are banned in Finland. Investing in ingredients and the whole dining experience also appears to have a positive impact on take up.

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The provision of school food in 18 countries - Summary (Adobe pdf doc 78KB)
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