A touching tale in which our brave reporter overcame his daily battle with school lunches.

One of the requirements for working here at SoraNews24 is a willingness to do and try almost anything, especially when it concerns food. And when it comes to food challenges, our reporter P.K. Sanjun isn’t afraid of anything the culinary world throws at him, no matter what kind of gastrointestinal havoc-wreaker is being served up.

Yes, P.K. Sanjun certainly is a man who knows how to put away a lot of food without any issues, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, he recently revealed that when he was a young grade schooler he would take around two hours to finish his school lunch.

▼ Grade schooler P.K. Sanjun. Aww!

Most Japanese elementary schools don’t allow students to bring in lunch from home. Instead, every child is given the exact same meal (allowing for allergies, of course). Lunch time usually lasts around an hour, and those who finish quickly get more time to play outside with their friends.

P.K. didn’t spend much time outside after lunch, though, because most days he would be still eating his school lunch after the final bell for the school day had rung, at around 2:30.

How come? Was P.K being served a staggering amount of food in preparation for his future career as a writer for SoraNews24?

No. P.K’s reason was, quite plainly, that he thought his school lunches were gross.

▼ With P.K chomping on monstrosities like pickle burgers, it’s hard to believe he’d find anything gross, but there you go.

That’s not to say that all of the lunches at P.K.’s elementary school were bad. P.K.’s school was even lucky enough to have an on-site kitchen, something not all schools in Japan have, meaning he could enjoy freshly cooked meals every day. And sure, there were some lunches that he really, really enjoyed.

The problem wasn’t that the school lunches were bad, it was that the food P.K. was served at home was just too good in comparison.

▼ Baby P.K and his mom in the kitchen

The food P.K. was served at home and at school didn’t vary wildly, but the way they were cooked were miles apart. The vegetables he was nagged to eat were much easier to eat at home than at school. There was just something about his mother’s cooking that made his body unable to accept food from anywhere else. Even though little P.K. really wanted to go outside and play with his friends, he couldn’t help but gag when he took a bite of his school lunch.

Back when P.K. Sanjun was a grade school student roughly 35 years ago, attitudes were a lot stricter than they are now when it came to leftovers. The unspoken rule was that every part of the school lunch was to be eaten, and to leave something unfinished was considered selfish. If there was a certain food that you didn’t like? Tough! Down the hatch it went, no matter how long it took you to do so.

And so P.K. was stuck at his desk, soldiering away at his lunch, until the final bell for the day rang and he was free to go home.

▼ We should mention that children were never required to eat the packaging.

This pattern continued until P.K., at this point an enlightened third grader, suddenly unlocked new skills to help him wage war on his school lunch.

These survival skills included strategically using milk to help swallow more unpleasant foods, like wakame seaweed (which P.K. still hates to this day), swallowing shiitake mushrooms and carrots without chewing them at all, and even hiding  certain foods he really hated in his desk or school bag. Sure, he wasn’t growing to like these foods, but he was solving the problem of having to eat them.

▼ Some foods may have been harder to sneak into his bag than others.

P.K truly became free of the tyranny of school lunches when he finally became a junior high school student. His eighth grade homeroom teacher, Mr. K., was a unique teacher, rough around the edges and very good at high kicks, even though he wasn’t that tall. He also didn’t like fish, and if fish was on the menu for lunch that day, he’d just leave it, untouched, even though his students were watching him the whole time.

“Why should we eat something we don’t like? It’s normal for people to have food they don’t like. You’re not going to drop dead just because you don’t eat fish,” he would say, and he was equally tolerant of his students’ eating habits; something at the time was quite unconventional. Looking back now, P.K thinks his old homeroom teacher was quite a progressive thinker at the time.

So in the end P.K. was finally free to eat food how he liked. And if there are any young kids out there today struggling to finish their school lunch, P.K hopes this story will inspire you to know that nothing is impossible to overcome, no matter how challenging it may seem!

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