Primary schools in American

Photos reveal just how meager US students' meals are compared to even the most cash-strapped of nations

What is it? School lunches in the United States stand in stark contrast to the wholesome and in some cases even decadent meals served to kids in other markedly less fortunate nationsMouthwatering photos of school lunches served around the world reveal even children in Ukraine, Estonia and Greece are treated to delectable meals each day. School children in America, meanwhile, aren't nearly so lucky.

Whereas a kid in France might be treated to a juicy steak and a hunk of brie, the richest country in the world's youths are more likely to receive unidentified meat served alongside little more than a starch like white pasta, fries or a roll.

The contrasts between America's school meals and those in far less fortunate economies are stark and suggest Michelle Obama's push for more healthful lunches nationwide may not be enough.

What is it? School lunches in the United States stand in stark contrast to the wholesome and in some cases even decadent meals served to kids in other markedly less fortunate nations

The first new school lunch standards championed by Michelle Obama have been phased in over the last several school years.

In addition to whole grain requirements, the rules set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on foods in the lunch line and beyond. While many schools have had success putting the rules in place, others have said they are too restrictive and costly.

Backlash against the rules have spawned a wave of social media photos along with the tag #thanksMichelleObama. If these pictures are any indication, schools have responded to the rules by cutting down on portions to reduce fat and calories rather than by using potentially more costly ingredients.

What children in other countries eat (clockwise from top left): Ukraine's version of sausage and mash; Brazil's plantains, rice and black beans; beetroot salad and pea soup in Finland and steak with beans and carrots in France (photo courtest Sweetgreen)Meanwhile, the widely different meals from Spain, Ukraine, Greece, South Korea, Brazil, France, Finland and Italy are all fresh and wholesome, with fish, steak and vegetables featuring prominently.

But in the UK and US, lunch trays feature processed foods such as popcorn chicken, frankfurters, cookies, and beans from a tin.

What children in other countries eat (clockwise from top left): Ukraine's version of sausage and mash; Brazil's plantains, rice and black beans; beetroot salad and pea soup in Finland and steak with beans and carrots in France (photo courtest Sweetgreen)

South Indian school children eat off a thali plate which has white rice, sambar (dhal), smoked gourd vegetable stir-fry, curd, buttermilk and kesari, a type of sweet dessert made from semolina

The school lunch comparisons were revealed by Sweetgreen, a chain of US restaurants, and website Never Seconds, run by Scottish schoolgirl Martha Payne, who logs her thoughts and experiences of eating school meals at her primary school in Lochgilphead, Scotland.

The 12-year-old launched the blog in 2012 as a school writing project with assistance from her father, David,

South Indian school children eat off a thali plate which has white rice, sambar (dhal), smoked gourd vegetable stir-fry, curd, buttermilk and kesari, a type of sweet dessert made from semolinaMary's Meals - which began in 2002 as a one-off school feeding programme - currently provides daily life changing meals to over 989, 000 hungry children in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and South America.

The surprising pictures show just how the UK and US measures up to the rest of the world when it comes to feeding schoolchildren.

While the majority of lunches feature fresh foods, US tray is packed with processed items.

Similarly the typical UK school lunch is sadly lacking in fresh vegetables, featuring a baked potato, sausage and beans from a tin, and a half corn on the cob with a melon slice to follow.

Lunch in an Estonian school is rice with a piece of meat and purple cabbage. They also have bread and a get a cup of chocolate drink

UK school dinner of frankfurters and beans, a baked potato, corn on the cob, slice of melon and a box drink

In Finland lunch is mainly a vegetarian affair of pea soup, carrots, beetroot salad, crusty roll and sweet pancake with berries to finish

School lunch in Alba, Spain (left): white flesh peaches, strawberries and yogurt melts, cous-cous, broccoli, cucumbers and roasted salmon; (right): Poached apple pears, strawberries and blue berries, boiled swede and fresh garden peas

In France, children start their meal with a generous slab of Brie.

Lunch in an Estonian school is rice with a piece of meat and purple cabbage. They also have bread and a get a cup of chocolate drinkThis is followed by a hearty portion of rare steak, served with two types of vegetables - carrots and green beans.

And you won't find sweets on this lunch tray. The healthy theme continues into dessert, with the young ones tucking into kiwi fruit and apples.

The South Korean lunch is equally as impressive.

A milky fish soup to start followed by a serving of stir fried rice with tofu, broccoli and peppers. On the side is kimchi, the traditional Korean condiment of fermented cabbage.

In Scandinavia, Finnish schools dish up a vegetarian lunch of pea soup, beetroot salad, carrots and a roll. For pudding there is pannakkau, a sweet pancake served with strawberries and blueberries.

South Korean children tuck into broccoli and peppers, fried rice with tofu, fermented cabbage and fish soup

Brie, green beans, carrot, rare steak and pudding of kiwi fruit and apples is served in French schools

A meal of traditional flavours: Brazil's rice and black beans, baked plantain, pork with peppers and coriander, green salad and a seeded roll

Rice, a chicken croquette, a piece of taro root and yellow pea soup is the school lunch in Old Havana, Cuba

In Japan, school children tuck into fried fish, dried seaweed, tomatoes, miso soup with potatoes, rice (in the metal container), and milk

A plump portion of lightly fried fish sits atop rocket salad in the Italian lunch tray. This is accompanied by a small portion of pasta, a simple caprese salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, a crusy roll and a bunch of grapes.

Most of the schools have kept to traditional foods for the school lunch.

Children in Spain start their meal with cold tomato soup, gazpacho, served with shrimp and brown rice. This is served with a seeded roll, peppers with red cabbage and half an orange for dessert.

Children in Greece have baked chicken with orzo, stuffed grape leave, cucumber and tomato salad, yoghurt with pomegranate seeds and oranges.

Wholesome: Seeded roll, shrimp with brown rice, gazpacho and tri-colour peppers. Dessert is half an orange

A serving of borscht (beetroot soup) with pickled cabbage, sausages and mash. Dessert is a sweet pancake

Greek school lunches feature baked chicken with orzo, stuffed grape leaves, salad of cucumber and tomatoes, yogurt with pomegranate seeds and two oranges

UK school dinner of frankfurters and beans, a baked potato, corn on the cob, slice of melon and a box drink In Finland lunch is mainly a vegetarian affair of pea soup, carrots, beetroot salad, crusty roll and sweet pancake with berries to finish School lunch in Alba, Spain (left):  white flesh peaches, strawberries and yogurt melts, cous-cous, broccoli, cucumbers and roasted salmon; (right): Poached apple pears, strawberries and blue berries, boiled swede and fresh garden peas A meal of traditional flavours: Brazil's rice and black beans, baked plantain, pork with peppers and coriander, green salad and a seeded roll

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