School meal

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The principal of Nauru Secondary School inspecting school lunches (2012)
A typical school lunch, in Sweden

Many schools are organized in such a way that they last all day. Very often, the break at midday is too short for the children to return home, to get a hot meal. So these schools serve hot meals (also called school meals, or hot lunches) at noon. Because they are only for the students, teachers and staff, some form of identification may be required to get in.Bigger schools have often adapted, so that the people get different menus to choose from. Common choices are vegetarian meals, or gluten-free ones. Also because the target group is limited, the meals are either provided free of charge (as their cost is covered elsewhere), or at a cheap price. Sometimes high-energy food is provided as well.[1]

The ideas for providing school meals may be different from country to country: In highly developed countries, the school meal is a good source of nutrients. In less developed countries, offering a school meal (free of charge) may be a reason to send children to school and continue their education. They help children become healthy and productive adults. With this they break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

History[change | change source]

The first school lunches were served in Munich, in 1790. An A physicist from America, Benjamin Thomsom, also known as Count Rumford, startted them. Thomson founded the Poor people's institute, to make clothing, mostly uniforms for the German army. He employed adults and children. In exchange for the work the people working there were giben clothing, and free meals. The children were also taught how to read and write, and how to do some basic mathematics. Years later, Thomsom operated a soup kitchen in London, where he would feed 60.000 people a day.[2][3] Thomson did a lor for feeding the poor i Europe; he is crediited with being the first to serve potatoes to these people.[4] He also invented or improved many of the machines which are still used in large kitchens today.[2]

In the United Kingdom, many changes have been made since school meals were introduced in the 19th century. The first National School Meals Policy was published across the United Kingdom in 1941. This policy set the first nutritional guidelines for school lunches, requiring balanced meals which include the appropriate levels of protein, fat, and calories.[5]

Pupils eating school meals at the Vallila Folk School in Vallila, Helsinki, Finland (1913)

In the United States, there was a gap during the industrial era. Poor children were suffering from malnutrition and hunger due to a low income of the families. Philadelphia and Boston were the first two cities to introduce school lunches in the U.S. Organizations such as Women's Education and the Starr Center Association began serving hot meals to students for an affordable cost. Soon, teachers noticed the benefits of students both mentally and physically. The federal government wasn't involved until the Great Depression (1920s), farmers and labors weren't doing well financially and the school lunch program was a solution that benefited everyone.[6]

In recent years, school districts have faced government or community pressure to change the foods served in schools. The addition of vegan school lunch and Meatless Mondays are examples of these changes.

Types[change | change source]

There are generally two types of school meals:

  • Free school meals
  • School meals at a reduced price

Free school meal[change | change source]

Sweden, Finland, Estonia and India are among the few countries which provide free school meals to all pupils in compulsory education, regardless of their ability to pay.[7][8] Many countries provide meals to improve attendance rates. In India, where all the Government School students are provided with free lunch meals through the Midday Meal Scheme, staple food that varies between different states and regions is provided along with free education.

In high-income countries, free meals are usually available only to children who meet income-based criteria.

A study of a free school meal program in the United States found that providing free meals to elementary and middle school children in areas characterized by high food insecurity led to better school discipline among the students.[9]

As of 2022 in England, 20.8% of the 8.9 million pupils attending schools in 2020/21 are known to be eligible for free school meals.[10]

Reduced price meals[change | change source]

Reduced price meals are also available in some countries to those who need a degree of assistance with costs. Lower-cost meals are available to students in such countries as France, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States.

References[change | change source]

  1. Aliyar, Ruzky; Gelli, Aulo; Hamdani, Salha Hadjivayanis (5 August 2015). "A Review of Nutritional Guidelines and Menu Compositions for School Feeding Programs in 12 Countries". Frontiers in Public Health. 3: 148. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2015.00148. PMC 4524891. PMID 26301209.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gordon W. Gunderson (2003). The National School Lunch Program: Background and Development. Nova Publishers. pp. 1–6. ISBN 978-1-59033-639-7.
  3. William Shurtleff; Akiko Aoyagi (5 July 2015). History of Soybeans and Soyfoods in Austria and Switzerland (1781-2015): Extensively Annotated Bibliography and Sourcebook. Soyinfo Center. p. 388. ISBN 978-1-928914-77-8.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. Susan Levine (21 November 2011). School Lunch Politics: The Surprising History of America's Favorite Welfare Program. Princeton University Press. pp. 197–. ISBN 978-1-4008-4148-6.
  5. Evans, C. E. L.; Harper, C. E. (April 2009). "A history and review of school meal standards in the UK". Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 22 (2): 89–99. doi:10.1111/j.1365-277X.2008.00941.x. PMID 19302115.
  6. "An Abbreviated History of School Lunch in America". Time. Retrieved 2019-02-24.
  7. "The Swedish School Meal as Public Meal: Collective Thinking, Actions, and Meal Patterns". Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences. 80. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis Uppsala: 9–81. 2012. ISBN 978-91-554-8431-6.
  8. "School Meals". World Food Programme. 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  9. Gordon, Nora E; Ruffini, Krista J (2018). "School Nutrition and Student Discipline: Effects of Schoolwide Free Meals". doi:10.3386/w24986. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. Anon (2021). "Academic Year 2020/21: Schools, pupils and their characteristics". "There are 8.9 million pupils attending 24,400 schools in England in 2020/21. 20.8% are known to be eligible for free school meals, representing 1.74 million pupils"