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Last Updated: Tuesday March 01 2005 15:42 GMT

School lunches around the world

School dinners are often in the news, and now the minister in charge of schools is planning to make them healthier.

A survey of 1,125 pupils shows 40% have chips at schools, while 85% have sweets, cakes or biscuits.

But what are kids in other countries snacking on at lunchtimes?

France school meal
Grilled chicken and green beans

Children in France tend to be offered smaller versions of more adult meals at lunchtime.

Grilled chicken with green beans is much more likely to be found on the menu than burgers or sausages.

Chips are only available one day a week, to go with salmon lasagne while pizza is served with a green salad.

And if that doesn't take the fancy of the pupils there is nothing else for them to eat, they have to go home for their lunch.

Drinks are just as healthy, as only water is available.

And using vending machines isn't a way out either, as there are none in primary schools and they will be banned in secondary schools from September.

The US
US school meal
Burger, chips and drinks

Children in US schools really don't like the food they are given, so many of them escape the canteen as soon as they are old enough to drive.

And people have said the lunches kids get in schools aren't very healthy, helping to make them fatter.

The government there is trying to make things better, but it's difficult to make changes when you're feeding more than 28 million students in 98,000 schools across the country.

Around 20% of US schools offer commercial fast food like McDonalds of KFC, and many of the schools have vending machines as well.

There are rules on the quality of the food given to school children, but some people are worried that the food given to kids is made from what is left over when all the other food has been produced.

Norway school meal
An open sandwich and fruit

No child in Norway gets a school meal. If they want to eat at lunchtime they have to take in a packed lunch.

And they only get 30 minutes to eat those packed lunches, normally sat at their desks in their classrooms.

Most packed lunches are open sandwiches, which means they only have one piece of bread. Often they have a cheese or salami topping.

Teachers see it as part of their job to encourage kids to eat healthily, avoiding foods that are bad for them or drinks full of sugar.

Children who don't take packed lunches have nowhere to buy anything at school, so can go the whole day without eating anything.

So some people are now arguing Norwegian schools should have canteens, but only ones that sell healthy food.

The Ukraine
Ukraine school meal
Sausage and mash

Children in the Ukraine get three courses for their lunch, often starting with soup before a main course and a pudding.

But because the country is so poor, the quality of food isn't always the best.

According to the authorities in one western region pupils are unlikely to be given fish, meat, eggs, juice, cheese, milk, or butter.

Meals used to be free but now many children have to pay for them. In the Ukrainian capital Kiev children pay around 1.04 a week to be fed.

Almost all the meals are made in the school kitchens from fresh ingredients.

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