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What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/16 15:34
I am planning on being an ALT in four years once I graduate from college. I know this is kind of silly to be thinking about now, but I know that teachers and ALTs eat the school lunches with their homeroom students. What should I do if I donft enjoy or canft eat the food due to allergies? Can I bring my own lunches from home or simply not eat lunch?

For the record: I really donft like fish or eggs and Ifm allergic to shellfish. Ifm trying to train myself to like fish, though. I do really like vegetables, curry, rice, and meat. Itfs mostly seafood and eggs Ifm worried about.
by Toby (guest)  

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/16 18:06
If you have allergies then rest assured nobody is going to force you to eat anything that is going to make you sick. I don't know how familiar you are with Japanese food (or rather, what people actually eat in Japan on a daily basis as opposed to the western idea of Japanese food), but shellfish is a lot less common than I think you are probably expecting it to be. Eggs are in a lot of stuff, boiled, fried, raw, just don't eat it and don't be shy to tell people that you can't eat egg.

I think that regardless of whether or not you bring your own lunches, if you are going to be an ALT then I guess there is a chance you are applying for JET, and if you are applying for JET then there is a very high likelihood that you will end up working in the countryside where you will definitely want to get used to Japanese food because there will be less options there.

Definitely don't recommend not eating lunch. It's a full time job. Being an ALT isn't exciting work; it's a paycheck and a ticket to live in Japan for a few years. Fine. But I think it would be a miserable experience if you are starving yourself every day.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/16 18:18
A Google search reveals that you can indeed bring make your own food arrangements (or at least, people have done in the past).
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/16 18:29
It's normally homeroom teachers who eat with their class, if my understanding is correct.

I also see no problems with bringing your own lunch and because I'm guessing your not Japanese few people will ask why you are not eating the same lunch as everyone else.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/16 22:12
it is difficult problem.
especially in elementary schools in Japan, teachers are expected to behave as a good role model of life.
In my elementary school life, I learned that I ate everything if it was served, even if I did not like it. sometimes it was unpleasant, but it greatly improved my dislikes of no trying. I really thank their training for me.
I believe that teachers influence the whole life of their students.
by ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/16 22:29
As for shellfish, you can leave it or tell the teacher in charge of you that you have an allergy beforehand.
But just "don't like" can't be a reason to not eat them, especially in school where you work as a "teacher" who is a role model of children.
by Tai (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/17 00:07
Nothing I've ever experienced in Japan has ever suggested that ALTs are role models in the same way that real teachers are.

Again, a simple Google search reveals lots of past and former JETs choosing not to do kyuushoku.

Just one of many, many threads on the subject: https://www.reddit.com/r/JETProgramme/comments/bbgxkk/current_jets_sch...

Definitely seems possible to make your own arrangements for food unless all these people are lying (why?). In short, I think you should do what you want.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/17 15:03
Due to awareness of food allergy, schools in Japan no longer force anyone, including students, to eat everything they are served. That is how it has been for at least more than a couple of decades. I know from the experience of having raised a child with food allergy. A role model would say "no" to whatever is bad for your body at that moment.

How schools deal with allergic students/teachers depends on the school. Some have allergic students bring their own lunch, some have them bring alternative food when the school menu includes allergens, and especially as kids get older they trade dishes between friends. In fact, not all junior high schools in Japan provide school lunches in the first place (our city of Yokohama being a typical example).

As mentioned, I have the impression that ALTs hardly eat school lunches together. By the way, I believe every adult in the world is expected to be a role model for children to a certain extent.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/17 18:00
@Uco
Yes, allergy would be treated properly. I was talking about the "dislikes".
by Tai (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/17 18:45
@Tai
I don't think I was referring to you about this matter, but I'm sorry if my post was misleading in any way.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/19 13:42
Thank you all for your answers! It's seriously been really helpful.

I'm trying to train myself to eat seafood more (aside from shellfish obviously), and I've started incorporating eggs more into food I like (ramen, curry, etcetera) to also try and train myself. I can honestly be a bit of a picky eater which kind of worries me. Otherwise I'll probably bring a bento if I can.

From what I've found, I've seen some ALTs eat with their students and others not. I think it just depends on the school or the teacher. I would like to eat with my students, but I'm going to most likely be with high schoolers, so the role model thing might be a little less important than when teaching younger kids (at least in terms of food).

Again, thank you all for your help.
by Toby (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/19 14:50
Note that senior high schools in Japan don't provide school lunches the way they do in elementary/jr high schools. This has a lot to do with the fact that senior high is not compulsory ed.

Many senior highs would have cafeterias where buying lunch is an option, and the Internet tells me that some senior highs have started providing school lunches (kyuushoku) optionally, but I don't think there is a senior high school that provides the same menu to all students, unless it's a boarding school.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/20 01:59
@Uco
I actually didn't know that. I really need to do a little more research, but that's why I'm planning out fairly far ahead. I mostly have done research on things like curriculums, language, and customs. Thank you.
by Toby (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/23 08:22
Having been an ALT for 5 years and now a manager of an ALT company for 5, it's your choice to eat school lunch. Of course the company you work for will strongly suggest you eat school lunch since it's an opportunity to interact with students (though not anymore due to COVID-19), it's not a requirement. Depending on the school, if you bring your own lunch you may be asked to eat in the staff room or you may be allowed to still attend lunch with the students (as long as you're not bringing pizza and coke, haha). It's really not that big of a deal.
by moon (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/23 18:44
If you are allergic to shellfish severely, you'd better bring a pack lunch. You never know which food contain shellfish especially if you are not familiar with Japanese cuisine. Allergy should be considered seriously to reduce your own risk

On the other hand, Japanese schools are strict to fussy eaters. I had to finish all the food I was served in order to show our gratitude for the life having died to become our provisions,a person who made the dish and peoples who made the ingredient. My husband who has worked as an ALT is not allergic to anything, therefore, he had to eat school meals. He was not happy with food he received sometimes but he eventually got used to them.
by tattooedhiroko rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/23 19:40
Some of these answers seem conflicting. I appreciate that another ALT has already chimed in but just so that it is absolutely clear and to avoid causing OP unnecessary anxiety, I want to answer too.

I was a dispatch ALT in Kanto for two years. Then after a year in my home country I returned to Japan and did JET for five years in Fukushima. After my contract ended I managed to get hired by my BOE.

You don't have to eat school lunches. Period. Anyone who says otherwise isn't familiar enough with the job to talk about it. I've worked at dozens of schools. I always brought my own food and never had a problem. Just tell your BOE or dispatch company that you will be feeding yourself. Tell them it's for dietary reasons if it makes you feel better. It's true that Japanese people can sometimes be strict about fussy eating. But you are an adult in the country for work purposes. You are not a Japanese child. Let's not get confused. You echo what someone else said, do whatever makes you happy.
by Tom (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/23 21:15
Toby san
The best thing you can do is simply ask the school. They should say you can bring a pack lunch. I don't think they want to be responsible for your health risk.

Tom san
It doesn't matter how many schools you have worked, you never get 100% accurate answer to this question because you haven't worked for schools in 47 prefectures. Schools in every region have their own policy. I was very shocked when I moved from Tohoku to Kanto in my school days, they had totally different rules. But I am 100% certain no school will force a teacher with an allergy to eat school lunch if she/he is concerned the health risk. My husband has worked in several elementery schools and primary schools in Kanagawa. So I left the answer based on my own childhood experience and my husband's experience during his stay in Japan. The younger the pupils are, the more honest they are. If you were asked by them why you are allowed to leave food on a plate while the pupils are supposed to eat everything, how would you answer as a grow-up?
by tattooedhiroko rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/23 21:38
I think there is a gap in understanding of education between Japanese and non-Japanese+Japanese with a Western mindset which is individuals come first.

As one of the former, I don't want (potential) ALTs to forget that you are going into an environment for education. And just like your country has its own policy and demands, Japanese education also has them. You are not a protagonist there. The children and (certified) teachers are. They clearly state that by requirements, salary, and contracts for ALT.
I fully agree with tattooedhiroko san.

If you were asked by them why you are allowed to leave food on a plate while the pupils are supposed to eat everything, how would you answer as a grow-up?

In Japan, all adults are expected to be a role model at school. They are not there only to read textbooks out. You should have watched videos or something about school lunch in Japan and its aims. If you haven't, I strongly suggest you to watch some on YouTube. It's a part of education here.

I believe they know how to deal with people from other cultures and self-centered ALTs (I'm not saying OP is). So, I recommend you to simply ask your employers, not strangers on the internet. I mean interviewers, dispatchers, and teachers by employers. It's them who know the rules but people here.
by Tai (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/23 23:42
I don't really think that the answers are conflicting. I grew up being expected to eat everything, but it was very different in my son's era in which all schools I did technical visits to let students leave food on their plate. Things have changed. All in all, I agree that it's best to ask the school or agent.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: What do I do if I donft like a school lunch? 2021/1/24 15:06
Well I definitely don't want to be rude. I understand that I am going to be in the country as a guest, and I want to follow the customs as respectfully as possible. I will definitely be sure to ask and bring up my allergy if necessary. (For the record: It's a fairly serious allergy that can cause respiratory issues.)

Also @moon I was planning on bringing a bento box, so don't worry about me having a bunch of junk food. I'm actually a vegetable kind of guy, so I'll probably bring a lot of those.

Lastly, I know that sushi isn't eaten in Japan as much as people think in the West, but I tried sushi for the first time last night and ended up liking it. That's a step forward for me!

As always, thank you all for the advice. It's really helpful.
by Toby (guest) rate this post as useful

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