08 SES 14, Schooling Food in Contemporary Times: Critical perspectives
This paper considers the contemporary policy environment governing foods available in schools and offers an analysis of how school food discourses have shifted over time in response to policy mandates. Over the course of the last few years policies in the USA regarding the sale and consumption of foods sold in schools have undergone radical changes, the most significant of these resulting from the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFA) of 2010. The debate around what constitutes a nutritious meal for children has a long and contentious history in the United States. In the case of school meal programs, tensions have specifically surrounded the precarious balance of industry stakeholders, the health of children and local, state and federal finances (Levine, 2010). It has now been almost seven years since schools have been required to implement the USDA’s HHFA regulations. Using critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 2013) this paper will explore the current state of affairs with regards to the Act’s perceived legitimacy, efficacy and implementation in schools. To begin, the analysis will examine the sociopolitical, economic and ideological environment in the United States that has helped position the 2010 iteration of the HHFA as necessary and pressing priority for schools to implement. Then, by drawing on school-based, government, news and media publications I offer an analysis of the varied ways the policy was discussed in the media and in the scholarly literature with regards to its implementation, enactment and efficacy. Specifically, the following key questions will guide the collection of data and subsequent analysis: What kind of policy narratives are currently associated with the Act and its implementation? On what basis is the Act now being justified as a necessary policy, if at all? How have policy narratives shifted over time throughout the enactment phase? Finally, I will examine the ongoing and new actors participating in policy discourses related to the Act’s repeal, continuation or amendment. Implications The investigation into the contemporary enactment of policy is also consistent with what Rose (1999, p. 58) argues when he called for inquiry to “question and complicate, that which forms the very groundwork of the present.” The examination of contemporary discourses shaping the enactment of the HHFA will ultimately provide insight into how educational policies are constrained or contested and thus archetypal of the goal of having policy environments reflective of and consistent with democratic ideals.
Fairclough, N., 2013. Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language. London, Routledge. Levine, S., 2010. School lunch politics: The surprising history of America's favourite welfare program. Princeton, Princeton University Press. Rose, N., 1999. Governing the soul: The shaping of the private self. London, England: Free Association Books.
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