“The Hot School Lunch” by Mrs. Estelle T. Smith, District Demonstration Agent, Agricultural Extension Service, North Carolina State College, Raleigh, as published by the North Carolina State Board of Health, November, 1919
A serious problem presents itself when we consider the thousands of school children who daily depend on the box luncheon for one-third of their food supply. So considered, it should be as important as that of providing any other meal. That this is not the view taken by the majority of people is, I am sure, apparent to all of us.
One of the biggest worries of the mother is what to feed the baby, but when a child reaches school age the general impression seems to be that he has the properties of an ostrich, and that anything that comes handy will do for his school lunch. This is a great mistake, for the school child is at the stage of development at which he begins to work his brain, at the same time he must be studied and given the food which will make him grow and thrive mentally as well as physically.
The expensive machinery of education is wasted when it operates on a mind listless form hunger or suffering from indigestion. Much thought must be given to the selection of food suitable for the needs of the school child.
A well balanced selection of foods is the important requisites of a school lunch. This does not necessitate a great variety or quantity. The lunch should contain muscle-building and heat and energy-producing foods. Mineral matter is also necessary as this builds the bones and develops the teeth.
This balanced lunch can best be carried out in the “hot school lunch.” It is impossible to make strong, healthy young animals of our children unless we provide the right kind of food.
A cold lunch is unattractive and unappetizing. A school lunch should please the palate and at the same time meet the bodily needs.
It has been found possible to work out a definite plan for lessons in the preparation of practical dishes which can be used to supplement the lunches brought from home.
Each week a committee could be appointed to take charge of the work for that week, planning which pupils shall bring supplies, which prepare and serve food, and which attend to clearing up. One day each week the lesson should be demonstrated by the teacher taking 30 minutes or more, and this lunch dish could be served each day for the remainder of the week. This plan may be modified to suit conditions.
The hot school lunch means increased mentality, increased vitality, better attendance, less incorrigibility, higher average in scholarship, better team work, reaction on home life.
Experience of the Hooper School“They are happier.” That is the remark made by the teachers of the seven first and second grades of William Hooper School of Wilmington, N.C., after hot lunches had been served to the children for two weeks.
This work was started last year under the direction of Miss Annie Lee Rankin, City Demonstration Agent of Wilmington, with the cooperation of the school officials, the parents of the children and the Red Cross.
There had been more influenza in this section of the town and there were more undernourished children. The basement of the school was equipped and one hot dish each day was served, hot chocolate or cream soup, this being prepared by a committee of women from Wilmington, who were interested, and the mothers of the children in the school, 300 to 350 being served each day. Some thought the children would not care for soup, but after it was once tasted there was no further trouble. By using two large home-made fireless cookers the soup could be started the day before and finished up in a short time. In serving, cups and bowls were carried to the room in large baskets and the bread carried on trays. The soup was put in large pitchers and served in the room. Each child had a sheet of paper on his desk and that protected the food from the top of the desk. One teacher had the children ask a little blessing before having their lunch together.
The teachers said the children attended school better after the serving of the lunch was started. Lunch was sold to the older children, and while the first week only $1 was collected, the second week showed $12.50 to have been collected.