Hiromi Tabata

“School meals provide nutritious diets for students and opportunities to learn.”

Japan

Hiromi Tabata is a nutrition educator in Tamba-Sasayama city, in Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. Her main role is to manage provision of nutritious and safe school lunches for ten middle and

primary schools and six kindergartens in the city—or more than 2000 meals per day.

Hiromi’s responsibilities include menu planning, nutrition and hygiene management, and selecting ingredients in line with the city’s active promotion of local production and consumption. 

Hiromi is also an award-winning cook. She uses her expertise to educate local children about food and where their school meals come from. She shares notebook with details of the day’s menu and encourages pupils to write comments about the food. 

“The school meal provides nutritious diets for students and pupils as well as opportunities for them to learn food ingredients and local, traditional cooking styles.”

The nutrition lessons help children living in an age of relative plenty in Japan to understand the value of proper nutrition, when both undernourishment and obesity have serious health effects globally, Hiromi says.

“It is important for children to gain the ability to choose food, in order to be able to select what is good for them.”

After COVID-19 caused the temporary shutdown of schools, then reopened, continued physical distancing rules put a temporary end to lunchtime conversation and to Hiromi’s nutrition talks—but not to her overall mission, which includes reminding children of where their food comes from.

“I would like to help them learn to appreciate the blessings of nature and develop gratitude for producers and all those who allow us to have food to eat.” 

For this food hero, lunchtime is essential to good nutrition, in more ways than one.

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