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School meals in past and present - perspectives for the future: School meals between policy and pedagogy

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Jette Benn - Lecturer

  • Miljø- og sundhedspædagogik
  • Enheden for materielle kulturstudier
  • Department of Curriculum Research
  • Forskningsprogram for Fagdidaktik

Schoolmeals in past and present - perspectives for the future.

Jette Benn, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University

This study is based on a former historical research of school meals in Denmark  through 100 years combined with a qualitative evaluation research  of a 20 weeks free school meal offer in Denmark today within 4 selected schools.

School meals can be seen as an expression for care, culture, consumption and education. The historical research show that school meals follow nutritional focus of present time in contemporary society,  food culture and moral and ethical considerations.  The studies reveal that political and educationa l views of the school meal have changed, as have the foods in the meal. The first initiatives from 1890'ities were meals  given for poor children as private charity to meet the pupils basic requirement for calories in form of staples in a hot meal. This was changed in 1930'ies to a cold meal consisting of bread and slices of meat, cheese, spread (open sandwiches as an offer for all children is some local city communities,  and nationally all were given milk and vitamins from 1950'ies. This was followed in the 1970'ies of possibilities to buy different basic foods as bread, milk and fruits and/or fast foods items. In 1990'ies some schools initiated projects where pupils were involved in producing and selling foods for lunch of different educational reasons from learning to run a business, to learn of healthy food, or to use practical work as a motivational factor or a break in the school day.

After 2000 the focus have been at health and nutrition, lastly a project of free school meals in 36 schools have been carried out and evaluated in 4 different part  projects, the qualitative study mentioned here has had the focus on learning environment and wellbeing, participation, competencies and food and food preferencies.  It is seen that the school meal have potential for a social meeting furthering wellbeing. A connection between learning environment and learning outcome cannot be documented. The conclusion of the survey is that school meals should

Valuate possibilities, strategies and aims Include participation of teachers and pupilsOffer different possibilities for food choices considering optimal nutrition and preferences See lunch break as part of the everyday life of the school Use the pedagogical and educational possibilities
Emneord: Food, school meals, past and present
14 Apr 2010

Event (Conference)

Title<em>Food and Everyday Life from a Historical Perspective</em>


  • Food, school meals, past and present

ID: 206826