Educational Resources

10 Countries: What’s for lunch in Asia?


Each year on World Food Day, 16 October, millions of people around the world come together and take action to demonstrate their commitment to end hunger and malnutrition once and for all. Globally, one in nine people in the world today (795 million) are still undernourished. Asia is the continent with the vast majority of the world's hungry people – two thirds of the total.

We're marking World Food Day this year by celebrating the midday meal across Asia. From Mongolia to Sri Lanka, take a look at a typical lunchtime for children.

Bangladesh: Fish, vegetable curry & peas
''Usually I love meat for my lunch but my mother says vegetables!'' 5-year-old Yunar's lunch is a plate full of rice with a piece of fish, vegetable curry, peas and a glass of water. Yunar usually goes home for lunch after attending pre-primary classes.

Vietnam: Rice with fried eels and vegetable soup
Sam, 9, an ethnic minority, often has lunch at home cooked by her mum with home-grown produce. Sam's parents, like other villagers, received training from World Vision and are now able to plant wet rice. They also received training on nutrition and home gardening to produce more nutrients for their meals with vegetables and fruit trees. ''I like to eat rice with fried eels and vegetable soup.'' says Sam.

Cambodia: Soup, fish and vegetable stew
''We have three dishes for lunch today at my house. My name is Samang and I'm five years old. Since it is the rainy season, we can easily grow green vegetables around our house.

On the menu today:
Machu Kdam – a local soup with thin slices of green papaya and gourd, then mixed with fish and crab meat, seasoned with fish eggs and red chilli.
Samlor Korko – an aromatic dish of pumpkin, green papaya, young chilli leaves with fermented fish, and lemongrass.
Tek Kreung – fish meat, ground peanuts, and fermented fish sauce is served with slices of cucumber, cooked papaya and young Leucaena leucocephala leaves.
The meal isn't complete without a pot of rice.''

China: Corn and potatoes
''This is what I eat every day! Hi, my name is Jiayi. With my brother and sisters, we peel the corn brought home by our father who has just returned from the farm. World Vision helps our family through an agriculture project. I live in Northwest China where families like ours make a living from farming.''

India: Flat bread, butter, yogurt and vegetables
''My name is Sarya and I'm 9 years old. Prepared by my mother, I eat lunch at home around 2pm after returning from school. For lunch, I have: two bajara roti (millet flat bread) spread with ghee (clarified butter), and vegetables, washed down with chaas (a popular yogurt-based drink, also known as buttermilk).''

Mongolia: Bread, butter and tea
''I'm Urango. I'm 8 years old in Grade 3. I live with my grandparents and my aunt in Ulaanbaatar. I go to school in the morning. After that I go home for the rest of the day. For lunch, my grandmother makes tea with sugar, bread and butter. It is a very typical lunch.''

Philippines: Rice, fish and pork
Mary Ann, 10, from Ormoc City, enjoys a sumptuous lunch of rice, kinilaw (raw fish soaked in vinegar and mixed with seasonings) and diniguan (a local stew made from pork blood and other ground meat).

Thailand: Pork, chicken soup, cucumber and black jelly
School lunch today: Fried rice with pork, chicken soup, fresh cucumber, and black jelly (liquorice flavoured) for dessert. Most Thai students eat lunch at school. In some rural schools where World Vision has Lunch Projects, lunches are served for free. At school, children grow and raise the ingredients used for their lunch like mushrooms, vegetables and herbs, chicken, fish, and even pigs.

Myanmar: Rice, chicken and potato curry, and fried watercress
''My name is Swe and I'm 11 years old. I live with my grandmother and grandfather. My grandmother packs my lunch. My favorite is rice and chicken and potato curry. I also love fried watercress. My grandmother cooks it once in a while. We have lunch at noon and sometimes I share my lunch with my best friends in class.''

Sri Lanka: Dhal, beets and rice
Kelum, 7, is ready to enjoy the delicious meal his mother has prepared for him. ''I'm a little hungry when I come home from school and my mother cooks tasty meals.'' On the menu today: beetroot, green leaf salad, dhal (lentils) and fish curry with rice. ''My boys love to eat lentils, so I cook it almost every day,'' says Kelum's mother.

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