When it comes to school lunches, our memories aren’t exactly the best. Greasy pizzas, questionable tacos, and mystery meat with a side of powdered mashed potatoes all made up wishing for more.
Meanwhile, in Japan, school lunches are offering up a much more satisfying and healthy lunch to students. But did you know that they’re getting Kobe beef in their lunches? Yes, it’s true.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, about 1250 public elementary schools and middle schools in the Hyogo Prefecture have been served (and some continue to be served) Kobe, or wagyu, beef in their lunches.
So what do the students think about this? After dining on wagyu and rice for lunch, one 12 year old shared: “This is the best meat I’ve ever eaten. Without a doubt. I’m gonna brag about it to my parents.”
Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture served the wagyu beef to public school students in the form of beef stew, sukiyaki, and many more varieties. Wagyu beef has been served at 46 out of 47 prefectures. In 42 prefectures, students were also given seafood.
So why are the students receiving the upscale meat in their lunches all of a sudden? It’s a result of the pandemic — with decreased demand from restaurants (due to a lack of dining out and tourism), beef and seafood suppliers have been facing a large surplus of their best products.
In April 2020, Japan’s government decided that it will help cover the cost of buying Kobe beer and seafood in order to serve it in schools while helping the struggling suppliers with their surplus.
A spokesperon from the Hyogo Prefecture Meat Industry Co-Operative Association said: “Some stores had no customers to sell meat to. They had so much in their inventories that they could not store it all in their fridges. We appreciate the stable consumption.”
The Financial Times reported that the Ministry of Agriculture was also trying to encourage residents to buy and consume more wagyu. The idea of distributing coupons that would cover wagyu beef was floated, but did not come to fruition.
Instead, it was decided that school children would be given the high quality meat for their school lunches. Additionally, supermarkets are selling the meat at 20% to 40% less compared to the price of it in 2019.