08 SES 16, School Food, Equity and Social Justice – Reflections From a Health Education Perspective Part 2
Symposium continued from 08 SES 16
School meals can be seen as a means of advancing educational equity in many different ways, hereunder by increasing childrens’ access to healthy school meals, and through this support a more equal educational attainment, or by using the school meal itself as a place/space for learning. This paper addresses the latter view on school meals, and starts with outlining how different welfare concepts of the school meal, and specifically the different organizations of the Swedish and Danish school lunches, offer different spaces and opportunities for learning (Benn & Carlsson 2014; Gullberg 2006). The paper is focusing on exploring the purposes, and the practical and social circumstances of free school lunch interventions, based on a Danish study aimed at evaluating the effects of these on pupils’ learning (Benn et al. 2010; Benn and Carlsson 2014). It is drawing on the notion of institutional commensality (Persson Osowski et al. 2012), as a perspective on the collective ways the material tasks and symbolic obligations linked to the free school lunch interventions in the participating schools are divided. The findings indicate that the content and organization of the school lunches, as well as the places, rules and rituals related to the meals, are structuring the opportunities for learning, and that their experiences with the novelty of a more communal school meal did have learning potentials. The analysis furthermore points out, that while the purposes of the school lunch interventions are underpinned by notions anchored in welfare-liberal ideology, seeing the school meal as a means to support equal access to healthy school meals, the content, provision and distribution of the school-lunch is driven by the neo-liberal contemporary “privatizing and fast-food-izing” of school food (Weaver-Hightower 2011). The demands of low costs and efficient food provisions in the implementation of the interventions neither seem to give the children access to healthy meals, nor provide many opportunities for learning about healthy food. The analysis thus identifies a discrepancy between the idea(l)s and the practices related to the school meal as a space for learning. The paper concludes with a discussion of, how the twinning of neo-liberal practices with well-fare liberal ideology is ‘troubling’ the understanding of health promoting interventions in schools as means of advancing educational equity, and of schooling as an arena for social and health reforms (Bergh & Englund 2014; Lindblad & Lindblad 2017; Spratt 2017).
Benn, J. & Carlsson, M. (2014). Learning through school meals? Appetite; 78C, 23-31. Benn, J., Carlsson, M., Hesselvig Mortensen, L., & Nordin, L. (2010). Do school meals offer opportunities for learning? (Giver skolemad næring for læring?) EVIUS-project report. Bergh A. & Englund, T. (2014) A changed language of education with new actors and solutions: the authorization of promotion and prevention programmes in Swedish schools. Journal of Curriculum Studies Volume 46, Issue 6: 778-797 Gullberg, E. (2006) Food for future citizens: school meal culture in Sweden. Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 9, 337–343. Lindblad R.F. & Lindblad S. (2017) Post-political governing of welfare state education in Sweden: Eva Reimers & Lena Martinsson (eds.) Education and Political Subjectivities in Neoliberal Times and Places. Emergences of norms and possibilities, Routledge, New York, NY. Persson Osowski, C., Göranzon, H., & Fjellström, C. (2012). Children’s understanding of food and meals in the foodscape at school. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 36, 54–60. Spratt, J. (2017) Wellbeing, Equity and Education. A Critical Analysis of Policy Discourses of Wellbeing in Schools. Springer. Weaver-Hightover, M. B. (2011). Why researchers should take school food seriously. Educational Researcher, 40(1).
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