08 SES 07 A, School Meals: Nutrition or Pedagogy?
This study analyses and discusses the goals and means set by education policy, including school food or meal regulations, from the perspective of critical health education. It focuses on the aspects of the policy which enable to understand the position of the state with regards to the intent and empowered involvement of parents and the local community in school food programmes. Development of children and young people’s competences to critically reflect upon and eventually address the social determinants of health which influence their everyday lives is a major learning objective in the critical health education perspective in general (Nutbeam, 2000; Simovska & Carlsson, 2012; Tones, 2005), as well as in food-related critical education (Colatruglio & Slater, 2014). Studies show how both curriculum-based interventions and school food programmes can override wider influences on children’s food-related practices (Kain et al., 2012; Robert & Weaver-Hightower, 2011). Intent and empowered participation within the school and in the relations between school and the local community, including the family, is an important element of food-related (Benn, 2014) and critical health (Nutbeam, 2008) literacy, as both a goal of learning and a means to learn. There are limited studies in developing countries on the potential for community engagement in school-based health education related to food, particularly within the context of primary schools in rural communities.
Codd (1988) defines policy as a “course of action” through which the state gives meaning to an issue, by selecting goals and defining values. This study is aimed at understanding how national policy frame the aims and means of food-related health education, and community engagement with the primary school meal programme as a potential goal or means to a critical approach to health. Critical studies have highlighted how policy ascribes schools the responsibility for an “order of things” that is beyond their scope (Sutton & Levinson, 2001), while advocates of health education view schools as a powerful source of social transformation by combining healthy policy with participatory health education (Green and Tones, 2010). An additional aim of this study is to explore how critical health education can be understood from the perspective of marginalized rural communities in a developing country such as Ecuador.
While Nutbeam (2008) categorizes health literacy outcomes according to increasing scopes of practice –from personal food “choice” to collective action in wider contexts– Benn (2014) identifies five major literacy dimensions related to food –content, practical, sensory, participatory, and caring. Both authors acknowledge the complexity of health education, involving a broad range of factors and influences. In Vygostky’s socio-cultural theory (Van Der Veer & Valsiner, 1994), context and mediation are important influences in children’s learning as they provide with meaning and ways of meaning making. In the literature, the school meal has been conceptualized as a mediator or source of knowledge about food and nourishment (Weaver-Hightower, 2011), and a curriculum or lesson “for life” (Halling, Jacobson, & Nordlund, 1990; Robert & Weaver-Hightower, 2011), whether intended or unintended. Research in rural communities in developing countries has found that children are integrated in “regular” food practices (Rogoff, Paradise, Arauz, Correa-Chávez, & Angelillo, 2003). From the practical aspects of food procurement, preparation and consumption, to the socio-cultural understandings of these practices, foodstuffs and meals can be seen as closely linked with the local community in which rural children live.
Benn, J. (2014). Food, nutrition or cooking literacy-a review of concepts and competencies regarding food education. International Journal of Home Economics, 7(1), 13-35. Codd, J. A. (1988). The construction and deconstruction of educational policy documents. Journal of Education Policy, 3(3), 235-247. doi: 10.1080/0268093880030303 Colatruglio, S., & Slater, J. (2014). Food literacy: Bridging the gap between food, nutrition & well-being. In F. Deer, T. Falkenberg, B. McMillan & L. Sims (Eds.), Sustainable well-being: Concepts, issues, and educational practices. Winnipeg, MB: ESWB Press. Halling, B., Jacobson, T., & Nordlund, G. (1990). Skollunchen. I går- idag- i morgon. Stockholm: LTs förlag. Kain, J., Uauy, R., Concha, F., Leyton, B., Bustos, N., Salazar, G., . . . Vio, F. (2012). School-Based Obesity Prevention Interventions for Chilean Children During the Past Decades: Lessons Learned. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 3(4), 616S-621S. doi: 10.3945/an.112.001966 Nutbeam, D. (2000). Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century. Health Promotion International, 15(3), 259-267. doi: 10.1093/heapro/15.3.259 Nutbeam, D. (2008). The evolving concept of health literacy. Social Science & Medicine, 67(12), 2072-2078. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.09.050 Robert, S. A., & Weaver-Hightower, M. B. (Eds.). (2011). School food politics : the complex ecology of hunger and feeding in schools around the world. New York: Peter Lang. Rogoff, B., Paradise, R., Arauz, R. M., Correa-Chávez, M., & Angelillo, C. (2003). Firsthand Learning Through Intent Participation. Annual Review of Psychology, 54(1), 175-203. doi: doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.54.101601.145118 Simovska, V., & Carlsson, M. (2012). Health‐promoting changes with children as agents: findings from a multiple case study research. Health Education, 112(3), 292-304. doi: doi:10.1108/09654281211217803 Sutton, M., & Levinson, B. A. U. (2001). Policy as practice : toward a comparative sociocultural analysis of educational policy. Westport, Conn.: Ablex. Tones, K. (2005). Health Promotion in Schools: The Radical Imperative. In S. Clift & B. B. Jensen (Eds.), The Health Promoting School: International Advances in Theory, Evaluation and Practice. Copenhagen: Danish University of Education Press. Van Der Veer, R., & Valsiner, J. (Eds.). (1994). The Vygotsky Reader. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Weaver-Hightower, M. B. (2011). Why Education Researchers Should Take School Food Seriously. Educational Researcher, 40(1), 15-21. doi: 10.3102/0013189x10397043
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