Below is a photo of a typical school cafeteria lunch in the good ole U.S.A.—it’s really beige, and also really sad.

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Now contrast the fried “popcorn” chicken, syrupy fruit, and giant cookie above with typical school lunches in countries around the world (below).

These images are all from a photo series created by the salad chain Sweetgreen. Each plate was put together by interpreting local government standards for school lunches and studying Tumblr photos taken by elementary students.

Unlike the typical U.S. cafeteria lunch, the lunches below are full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and natural foods. They’re also filled with local products like plantains in Brazil and yogurt and pomegranates in Greece. greece


Sweetgreen’s co-founder Nic Jammet, who started the company with his friends while in college because they were sick of their school’s own mediocre cafeteria food, tells FastCoExist

“We wanted to look at how kids are eating around the world—not in a literal way, not that this is exactly how every plate looks, but as a way to relate to how we eat in this country.”


Each day, thirty-two million students in the U.S. eat cafeteria food. Those students are, for the most part, obese and unhealthy. Sweetgreen argues that part of the solution to this problem is education, and the chain is doing its part by operating a healthy eating education program in schools.

School Lunches Around the World

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Typical school meal: Steak, carrots, green beans, cheese, and fresh fruit


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Typical school meal: Mashed potatoes with sausage, borscht, cabbage, and syrniki (a dessert pancake)italy


Typical school meal: Local fish on a bed of arugula, pasta with tomato sauce, caprese salad, baguette, and some grapeskorea

Typical school meal: Fish soup, tofu over rice, kimchi, and fresh veggies

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Typical school meal: Pork with mixed veggies, black beans and rice, salad, bread, and baked plantains