Sometimes, we hear from Muslim parents in Japan that they are not allowed to give halal bento (lunchbox) to their school-going kids as the school administration does not allow children to bring bento (lunchbox) from home. This is an important issue that should be clarified sooner than later as a large number of Muslim families are struggling with this issue.
In most of the cases, school teachers cooperate with us on this topic. let us divide this topic based on the age group of children.
Lunch Boxes (bento) for Kindergarten-going Kids
Based on my experience as a parent when my kids were going to Youchien or Houikuen (kindergarten or playgroup), I would sit with the school authorities to discuss the details of what they were going to offer to kids for lunch. Their first response would be that it was pretty difficult to give halal dishes to our kids as all the other children were consuming the food which was not halal. So, they could not prepare halal dishes specifically for our kids.
In many cases, they told us that they would discuss this issue with the education department of their related ward office. The ward office would almost always approve our request that we were allowed to give our own halal bento to our kids to replace the haram items which the school was offering. You have to sit with the staff at the school. They will generally confirm with the manufacturers of all the food items, they serve in their school.
The school teachers would let us know that our child could take certain items which were permissible to eat in Islam. We were required to prepare halal foods only on certain days. However, it could be different for everybody. So, please do confirm with the school administration.
Giving halal bento to kindergarten-going kids might be a little tricky. You have to sit with the staff at the school. They will generally confirm with the manufacturers of all the food items they serve in their school.
Lunch Boxes for Kids going to Primary or Junior High Schools
Give them whatever you want. There should be no compulsion from the school. You may want to prepare only those dishes which your child likes to eat. Otherwise, he or she may not eat lunch at all or give it to any classmate.
A word of Caution
We will advise Muslim parents in japan that they should get the details of what the school was providing to kids for lunch on every day of the week for a particular month. Once you have that information, please try to match your halal dishes with the being offered at school so that your kids do not feel any distress.
Please share your experiences with us on this forum by leaving a comment below. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org