Discussant piece: food and schools



McIntosh I, Emond R & Punch S (2010) Discussant piece: food and schools. Children's Geographies, 8 (3), pp. 289-290.

First paragraph: The school has long been regarded as having responsibility for not only the intellectual development of children but also their social and physical wellbeing. As such the school has become one of the most externally surveyed and regulated spaces that children and adults pass through. This is particularly the case in relation to adult's and children's food and their accompanying food practices. The school has thus been central in policy interventions in children's lives through the supply of various food substances (milk, fruit, free school meals) as well as attempts to develop the expected social norms that revolve around and through food practices (e.g. sitting at the table, sharing, serving food etc.) (Dickie 2004). Indeed schools are often seen to be a key social institution through which to supplement, or indeed, counteract food experiences and practices that children may have at home; a space in which they can supervised and monitored in ongoing efforts to instil 'good' habits and be made to eat the 'right' sort of food (McKendrick 2004a, 2004b, Kime 2008). The preceding two studies emphasise this point that schools are regarded within social policy as an important site to change and influence eating behaviours, in particular, as Daniel and Gustafsson note, with a current emphasis on school as a place where children's nutritional intake is monitored (Cunningham 2003, see also Dickie 2004 on the school meals in Scotland). School mealtimes have therefore become not only a training ground for children for the learning of life-skills, morality and manners but a way to improve their health and wellbeing. Indeed, as Pike notes, 'school dinners' have become incredibly newsworthy and seem to carry a great weight of popular expectation in relation to improving the nation's health and the health of future generations. This is of course particularly the case with current Government concerns and media obsessions with 'obesity' (see Proctor et al. 2008). To this extent, as Pike points out, school dinners have become highly politicised.

Children's Geographies: Volume 8, Issue 3

Publication date31/08/2010
PublisherTaylor and Francis (Routledge)

People (2)


Professor Ruth Emond

Professor Ruth Emond

Professor, Social Work

Professor Samantha Punch

Professor Samantha Punch

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology