Japanese school lunches aren't synonymous with "mystery meat," but rather, shokuiku. It means "food and nutrition education," and it's a vital part of the Japanese child's early education.
As a country, Japan prioritizes school lunch. If parents can't front the $2.50 cost of a meal, free and reduced lunch programs help kids stay full.
"Japan's standpoint is that school lunches are a part of education," Masahiro Oji, a government director of school health education, told the Washington Post in 2013, "not a break from it."
Here's what it looks like to be one of the global leaders in lunchtime.
Funding for lunches is handled locally too : municipalities pay for labor costs, but parents are billed monthly - pay for the ingredients, about $3 per meal, with reduced and FREE options for poorer families.