What school lunch looks like in 19 countries around the world

  • While students in the US may be enjoying pizza and chocolate milk, those in France are treated to salmon and ratatouille for their school lunch.
  • These photos capture how American school lunches compare to other countries around the world.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In the United States, a typical school lunch might consist of chicken, a whole-grain roll, and salad. But in France, students’ plates might instead be filled with salmon and ratatouille.

That’s what the Associated Press and Reuters found when they set out to capture how American school lunches stack up against those served in other countries around the world.

While most schools outside the US don’t sell lunch, the ones that do usually feed their students healthy meals. Students abroad are more likely to go home for lunch or bring a home-cooked meal.

Check out what school lunch looks like in 19 countries below.

Alyson Penn contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Paris, France: Pike fish, green beans, and Paris mushrooms.

Lambersart, France: Another fancy lunch includes rice, salmon, ratatouille, a slice of bread, a salad with celery and carrots, an orange, and a doughnut.

Bamako, Mali: Fried donuts, though most students go home to eat.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: Potatoes and an empanada with thin slices of meat.

Buenos Aires, Argentina: A lunch box containing rice with chicken milanesa (chicken covered in egg and bread crumbs).

Barcelona, Spain: This lunch is composed of cream of vegetable soup, pan-fried veal with salad, a piece of bread, an orange, a banana, and water.

Madrid, Spain: Another Spanish lunch consists of an omelet, vegetable soup, banana yogurt, and water.

Madrid, Spain: Creamed vegetables and yogurt.

London, England: The meal on the right consists of pasta, fresh broccoli, slices of bread, and seasonal fresh fruit. The other option is vegetable chili with rice and fresh broccoli, sponge cake with custard, and a banana.

London, England: Pasta with broccoli, slices of bread, and seasonal fresh fruit.

Havana, Cuba: Rice, chicken croquette, a piece of taro root, yellow pea soup, fried plantains, and an orange drink.

Quito, Ecuador: This packed lunch consists of a ham, cheese, tomato, and lettuce sandwich, a boxed drink, and an apple.

Singapore: Bowls of salad with snacks that include fruit, homemade bread, natural beans, soup, and barley.

Jakarta, Indonesia: Rice, meatball soup, tofu, and vegetables.

Jakarta, Indonesia: Students also buy pancakes on the street for the equivalent of one cent.

Nablus, West Bank: Sandwiches brought from home consist of pita bread stuffed with olive oil and zaatar, a mixture of herbs and spices.

Jammu, India: Children stand in line to receive a free mid-day meal of sweetened rice.

Jammu, India: This homemade lunch contains flatbread, a turnip dish, and mangoes.

Montevideo, Uruguay: Students eat soup prepared with vegetables they grew at the Agustin Ferreira school


La Fria, Venezuela: Pasta with arepas (cornmeal cakes)


Zhejiang, China: Rice, beans, and mixed vegetables


Jenin Refugee Camp, Palestine: Children buy chickpeas from a street vendor in front of a school that belongs to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Rawalpindi, Pakistan: Most of the children pictured below have home-cooked lunches, including eggs, chicken nuggets, bread, rice, or noodles. Others have vegetables, minced mutton, or beef.

Moriyama, Japan: Rice, soup, and oranges.


Harare, Zimbabwe: Sadza (finely ground corn maize), dried vegetables, beef, and tea.


Kingston, New York, US: Baked beans, a meatball sub, carrots, broccoli, peaches, a banana, and chocolate milk

Denver, Colorado: A student in the Munroe Elementary School gardening club enjoys a taco she helped prepare by growing and chopping vegetables.


Seattle, Washington, US: A grilled cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread is served with a southwestern-style corn salad, fresh carrots, and either canned pears or applesauce.