AP PHOTOS: A taste of school lunches around world

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SEATTLE (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama is on a mission to make American school lunches healthier by replacing greasy pizza and french fries with whole grains, low fat protein, fresh fruit and vegetables.

The Associated Press helps you compare her efforts in the United States with what kids are eating around the globe by sending photographers to see what kids in Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America ate for lunch this week.

The new American standards are giving kids in the United States a taste of the good life already experienced by school children around the world. Most countries put a premium on feeding school children a healthy meal at lunchtime.

Many kids go home to eat lunch with their families or bring a lunch cooked by their parents.

Although few schools sell lunch, snacks are available around the world. In many places those snacks are as unhealthy as treats in the United States: fried doughnuts in Mali and Pakistan, candy in the West Bank, fried chicken nuggets in France.

American children are more likely to eat a lunch made in a school cafeteria, although other countries are starting to adopt this practice as more mothers go to work outside the home.


In France, lunch is an art form: hot, multi-course and involving vegetables. While their mothers were at work Tuesday, children in Lambersart in northern France were served ratatouille, salmon, rice, a chunk of baguette and an orange.

A school lunch is laid out on a tray at the Anne Franck school in Lambersart, northern France. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)


Children receive a free mid-day meal made of sweetened rice at a government school on the outskirts of Jammu, India. The Mid-Day Meal is a massive school feeding program reaching out to millions of children in primary schools across India, mainly to enhance school enrollment and attendance and improve nutritional levels among children.

Children stand in line to receive a free mid-day meal on the outskirts of Jammu, India. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)


Fresh food is also on the menu at the DEL-Care Edu Center in downtown Singapore, where students are fed breakfast, lunch and even dinner for kids of parents who work late. Typical lunches include spaghetti marinara, fish slices, chicken casserole or lotus root soup.

Bowls of salad are ready to be served at Delcare Edu Center, a local kindergarten and child care center in the business district of Singapore.(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)


Kids usually bring a home-cooked meal to school in Pakistan, where school leaders check lunch boxes for junk food and admonish parents to keep things healthy. A typical sack lunch at The Bahria Foundation school in Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital, Islamabad, includes eggs, chicken nuggets, bread, rice or noodles. Some also include leftovers such as minced mutton and vegetables cooked the night before.

Assorted lunch plates are arranged at a table for students at the Bahria Foundation school in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)


Palestinian children in the West Bank usually eat during recess in the schoolyard, as there are no dining rooms in schools.

Palestinian students during their half-hour mid-day break In the West Bank city of Nablus. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)


In Indonesia, not every student can bring a lunch box to school. Public school students buy their lunch at school cafeterias or food stalls on the nearby streets. The price for one pancake is about one U.S. cent.

A public elementary school girl buys a pancake for her lunch on the street in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)


Ecuadorean children bring sack lunches to school, typically a sandwich, juice, yogurt, cookies and piece of friut.

A student's lunch box brought from home sits on display at an elementary school in Quito, Ecuador. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)


Two lunch trays at a primary school in London are served during a lunch break. One choice consists of pasta with fresh broccoli and slices of bread, and seasonal fresh fruit. The other contains vegetable chili with rice and fresh broccoli, sponge cake with custard, and a banana. The drink options are milk and water.

Two lunch trays at a primary school in London are served during a lunch break. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)


Lunches in Old Havana, Cuba, contain rice, a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root and yellow pea soup. The children provide their own drinks.

Milagro Ramos, a student at the Angela Landa elementary school, spoons up rice from her lunch tray, which also contains a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root and yellow pea soup in Old Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)


A school lunch at El Caminet del Besos kindergarten in Barcelona, Spain, is composed of cream of vegetable soup, pan-fried breast of veal with salad, a piece of bread, an orange or banana and water. Most countries seem to put a premium on feeding school children a healthy meal at lunchtime. U.S. first lady Michelle Obama is on a mission to make American school lunches healthier too.

A school lunch at El Caminet del Besos kindergarten is pictured in Barcelona, Spain. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)


In Federal Way, Washington, schools have embraced the first lady's lunch campaign.

At Mirror Lake Elementary, about 20 miles south of Seattle, students ate grilled cheese sandwiches, corn salad, fresh carrots, apple sauce and low-fat milk on Monday. The bread was whole grain, the cheese low fat and low sodium, the carrots fresh and fruit the only dessert.

Fried food, white bread, sugar-laden desserts and overcooked vegetables have all but disappeared from the American school menu. Anything kids can pick up with their fingers is popular in the younger grades. High school students enjoy some spicy and exotic choices, especially Asian flavors, says Federal Way chef and dietitian Adam Pazder.

A school lunch at Mirror Lake Elementary School in Federal Way, Wash., south of Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)