The rural school meal as a site for learning about food

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The aim of the article is to contribute to the understanding of the school meal as a site for learning about food, nutrition and the wider determinants of health in three small rural schools of Ecuador. Based on a year-long qualitative fieldwork, the multiple case study associates Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of learning with Noddings' theory of care to analyze the findings. In the study, elements of care in the relationships between children and adults seemed to promote dialogue and, in this way, adults were able to model what is required to care for others and oneself. This entails that a focus solely on food or limitations on social interaction during the school meal may reduce its learning opportunities. The study concurs with the research that the food is better received when it is more aligned with the students' expectations. In addition, the findings support the view that rural school meal programs should address the views of parents and teachers because of their influence on how the meal is prepared and provided. The article proposes that schools work within a flexible framework emphasizing attention to the caring aspects of the meal, as a means to develop this dimension of the school meal. The study also contends that a collaborative reshaping of conditions formally set by school food policy is consistent with a critical approach to food and nutrition. In connection with this, the study concludes by highlighting the value of revisiting Noddings' perspective of care as deriving from the practice of opening up and meeting the other.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAppetite
Volume117
Pages (from-to)29–39
Number of pages11
ISSN0195-6663
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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