Tokyo: Schools Replace Fresh Fruit With Jelly, Food Prices Rapidly Increase

Kazumi Sato, a nutritionist at a middle school in Tokyo’s eastern suburbs, has been receiving alerts for months concerning price increases in various ingredients.

Local authorities are wary of passing the cost of more expensive school meals on to kids’ families, mindful of the financial problems they face. Since the kitchen at Senju Aoba Junior High School is limited in resources, Sato has had to continuously modify lunch preparations.

Sato says she replaces fresh fruit, which is pricey in Japan, with jelly or a little piece of hand-made cake. She’s switched to using a lot of bean sprouts as a low-cost substitute, but she’s afraid she’ll run out of ideas if the price keeps going up.

In a society that isn’t used to rapid price increases, inflation is becoming an increasingly political problem in Japan, and many people are already feeling the pinch.

Soaring food costs have a significant impact on low-income Japanese families’ ability to eat.

Sato notes that an 18-liter (4.8-gallon) can of cooking oil now costs 1,750 yen ($12.85) more than a year ago, while the price of onions has doubled. In order to meet government-mandated dietary standards, dietitians are limited in what they may accomplish.

In order to avert this, authorities are concerned that impoverished families are more likely to cut out on healthful meals at home. Many teachers and government authorities have noticed a noticeable difference in the weight of some students when they return to school after the summer vacation.

Of that, families pay 303 yen for lunch at public middle schools in Tokyo’s Adachi ward.

An effort to alleviate some of the escalating expenses of school meals was announced by the government in April. In order to avoid passing the cost on to families, Adachi ward intends to utilize those funds and its own additional budget.

Then again, Sato is concerned about rising energy and food prices, particularly near the conclusion of the school year when allotted funds begin to run out.

It’s possible that veggies would suffer since the wet season finished earlier this year, she noted. The real concern is what the pricing will be like in the autumn and beyond – (136.15 yen to the dollar).

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