Universities dish up ¥100 breakfasts to get students eating right

JIJI

A growing number of universities around Japan are serving up ¥100 breakfasts as they seek to promote a healthy diet among students.

The budget breakfasts are proving popular, with many students saying their lifestyle habits have improved thanks to the balanced meals.

At Tokyo Keizai University in Kokubunji, western Tokyo, the breakfasts are now offered throughout the school year following an initial three-week trial last May that was later extended to weekdays from September to early January.

The university said the service was started in response to a proposal from the parents association, which took the idea from a different university.

A spokesman said a survey conducted before the start of the project found many sports club members were skipping breakfast despite the need to build physical strength.

“The university was surprised at the survey results and strongly found it necessary to support such students,” the spokesman said.

However, in a follow-up survey conducted last December, 93 of the 111 respondents said they were now in the habit of eating breakfast every day.

The breakfast, cooked by staff in the university’s cooperative, is limited to 100 servings a day and usually sells out. It consists of rice, miso soup with pork and vegetables, a main dish such as fried chicken or boiled fish, and two side dishes.

The parents association subsidizes ¥200 of each meal’s value of ¥300.

Among the survey respondents, a second-year male student majoring in economics said, “I feel distracted when I skip the breakfast.” A third-year female student majoring in business said she was now eating fish.

Also serving ¥100 breakfasts are Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Komazawa University in Tokyo and Hiroshima University of Economics in the city of Hiroshima.

Meanwhile, Shonan Institute of Technology in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, started serving free breakfasts last October.

The meal, consisting of rice, miso soup, salad and a main dish, is offered between 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m.

An official there said initial reactions were mixed to the idea of the parents association subsidizing the breakfasts, with some people saying the parents of students who live at home might find it unfair.

As a result, the institute decided on free breakfasts with the cost covered by a private fund established by its honorary president.