A friend of mine grew up in Osaka, Japan. She’s been living in Canada for many years now but has fond memories of kyushoku (school lunch) from her own childhood, as well as from the year she and her family spent in Japan and her young daughter went to school.
Here she remembers one of the hazards of having kids involved in serving the meal:
“Once in a while (once a month? I don’t remember), there was an accident. Kyushoku-toban (the day’s servers) dropped a big pot of miso soup or tripped while carrying a big bin of grilled mackerel between the school kitchen and classroom. That was a tragedy. The servers had to visit other classrooms to ask to share some or offer up their leftovers. The students in that class finished lunch very late (it took time to collect 40 meals) and they’d often miss out on lunch recess!”
Being a major klutz myself (and the mother of a child who spills his milk at dinner. Every. Night.), I can empathize with the challenges this could present for teachers. But in the same way that I still let my kids pour their own milk (gritting my teeth, cloth in hand) because they need to learn to do it on their own at some point, having children involved in serving and carrying the school lunch pays long-term dividends. Children get a chance to see themselves as vital, contributing members of their community.