Shokuiku: Approach to School Lunch

Professor Betty Izumi, Portland State University

Kikkoman Japanese Food Culture Series

May 9, 2019 | 6pm
Smith Student Union, Room 296/8

In 2005, Japan passed the Shokuiku Kihon Hō (Food Education Basic Law) to address a wide range of problems at the intersection of health, food systems, and culture, problems that included increasing rates of diet-related chronic diseases, shrinking and aging agriculture and fishing industries, low food self-sufficiency, and loss of traditional food culture due to globalization. This groundbreaking piece of legislation helped to reshape Japan’s national school lunch program, which is now part and parcel of a broader effort to promote shokuiku. The word shokuiku is usually translated into English as “food education” but encompasses a more holistic approach to addressing food and nutrition problems than simply educating individuals and considers the complex interplay between individual factors, such as knowledge and environmental influences.  As a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Japan, Dr. Izumi explored how shokuiku is promoted in Tokyo elementary schools and how it is integrated into every facet of the school day. Along the way, she indulged in school lunches, spoke with dietitians and students about their school lunch experiences, and toured kitchens that make 400-10,000 meals from scratch each school day. In this, talk, Dr. Izumi will share her experiences and insights about Japan’s holistic approach to school lunch and potential implications of her work for school lunch programs in the United States. 

Betty Izumi is a registered dietitian and associate professor in the Oregon Health & Science University and Portland State University joint School of Public Health. Her research focuses on issues at the intersection of nutrition, sustainability and health equity. She uses a community-based participatory research approach to develop, implement, and test interventions designed to improve diet quality and health in underserved communities while promoting vibrant and resilient local food systems. She is the principal investigator for Harvest for Healthy Kids, an award-winning nutrition intervention developed in partnership with Mt. Hood Community College Head Start and Early Head Start. Harvest for Healthy Kids connects children in early care and education settings to local agriculture through classroom education, food service modification and family engagement. In 2017-18, Dr. Izumi was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo, Japan where she studied school lunch programs in Tokyo elementary schools. 

Photo of Betty Izumi