08 SES 16, School Food, Equity and Social Justice – Reflections From a Health Education Perspective Part 2
Symposium continued from 08 SES 16
What children consume in schools has become one of the most popular public health issues of our time (Pike & Leahy, 2012). In this paper, we position lunchtime as a specific curricular phenomenon and critically examine international school lunch policies and practices that guide the enactment of this pedagogical space, with a focus on schools and schooling in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. We argue that contemporary school lunch policies are guided by a desire to regulate and control consumption as well as to transmit particular ideological values around food and notions of what constitutes (un)healthy eating practices and (un)healthy bodies (Gibson & Dempsey, 2015; Harman & Cappellini, 2017). Throughout our analysis we consider the cultural, sociopolitical, and economic forces that render these surveillance and regulatory practices commonsensical. Drawing on the insights of Michel Foucault, particularly around his writings on governance and governmentality (Foucault, 2003), we critically examine the ways in which particular rationalities, ideologies and discourses (occurring in multiple sites) are levied to form and constitute particular modes of being and justify potentially programmatic and/or harmful action. Our findings come from an international investigation of lunch policies occurring in three countries. Drawing on data collected from a range of sources, including empirical investigation, academic commentary, government reports, media releases, and curricular materials, our analysis attends to the existence of local narratives located within national contexts and discourses on the topic. We argue that the school lunch experience is being enacted as a global strategy to instil ideological and normative messages about health and education. These messages invoke particular regimes of truth regarding appropriate foods and consumption habits, ideal body forms and functions, as well as the schools’ justifiable level of intervention to influence these. Our findings suggest that common anxieties around consumption, health and obesity drive these kinds of transnational ‘lunching’ policies, practices and pedagogies. While such campaigns are largely based on altruism and ‘good intentions’, on closer analysis we suggest that there are some very troubling effects that are produced as a result of implementing such initiatives, including an endeavour to shift the responsibility (and blame) for (ill)health onto individual children and their families.
Foucault, M. (2003). Truth and power. In P. Rabinow & N. Rose (Eds.), The Essential Foucault: selections from essential works of Foucault 1954-1984 (pp. 300-318). London: The New Press. Gibson, K., & Dempsey, S. (2015). Make good choices, kid: biopolitics of children’s bodies and school lunch reform in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Children’s Geographies, 13, 44-58. Harman, V., & Cappellini, B. (2017). Lunchboxes, health, leisure and well-being: Analysing the connections. In Z. Benkő, I. Modi & K. Tarkó (Eds.), Leisure, health and well-being: A holistic approach (pp. 45-60). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Pike, J., & Leahy, D. (2012). School food and the pedagogies of parenting. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 52(3), 434.
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