Tokyo School Swipes Fruit For Jelly As Food Prices Increase

Kazumi Sato, a nutritionist at a middle school in eastern Tokyo, is continually altering lunch recipes to keep Senju Aoba Junior High School’s kitchen under budget, mindful of the economic challenges many of the kids’ families experience.

“I try to include seasonal fruits once or twice a month, but it’s difficult to do it frequently,” she said.

Sato said she substitutes jelly or a sliver of baked cake for fresh fruit, which is pricey in Japan. She’s started using a lot of bean sprouts as a cheap substitute wherever possible, but she’s worried she’ll run out of ideas if costs continue to rise.

In Japan, a country unaccustomed to sharp price increases, inflation is becoming a political issue, and many households are feeling the pinch.
Soaring food prices have an impact on schools, which are a key source of nutrition for low-income Japanese families.

Sato claims that an 18-liter (4.8-gallon) can of cooking oil now costs 1,750 yen (RM 57) more than a year ago, while the price of onions has more than doubled.

Because the government sets tight dietary criteria for public schools, nutritionists can only do so much before schools are compelled to hike rates on families.

Authorities seek to avoid this because they know impoverished families will eat less healthful meals at home. According to educators and public officials, some children return to school after summer break visibly slimmer.

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