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An Introduction and History of Lunchroom Nutrition

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An Introduction and History of Lunchroom Nutrition

Lunchroom nutrition has been an integral part of the scholastic experience for many centuries. It started in the European nations as far back as 1790 and continues right through the present day.

In the 1790's, a school lunch program was formed in Munich, Germany by Benjamin Thompson. The food served to children and adults consisted mainly of soup made from potatoes, barley, and peas. Meat was not included in the diet because of its high cost. Because of a lack of adequate funding for his projects, Benjamin Thompson was constantly seeking to develop meals which would provide the best nutrition at the lowest possible cost.

In the early days of America, when most schools were in rural communities, most children went to school only when the farm work allowed. Children ate lunch out in the fields and only what was available. Most children up until the 1940's actually went home for lunch, unless they lived too far away.

Efforts were made beginning in the early 1900's to provide some means of warming certain foods brought from home or to prepare a hot food of some kind at school as a supplement to the foods brought from home. Public funds for such purposes were generally not available. But, many teachers devised plans for preparing soups or similar hot dishes from meats and vegetables brought to school by pupils as a donation for the general use of all.

Students took turns in helping to prepare the foods before the morning session began. Such dishes were cooked in a large kettle set on top of the stove which also heated the school room. In one state, a program known as "the pint jar method" was used in heating foods brought from home. Students brought items such as soups, macaroni, cocoa, etc. in a pint jar. The pint jars were set into a bucket of water on top of the room heater or stove, and by lunch time such foods would be hot. Much stress was placed upon the importance of students receiving some hot food at school each day to supplement the cold sandwiches.

During the Great War school lunches were served to children attending public schools in many of America's larger cities. Meals were carefully prescribed by nutrition scientists. Menus were developed to ensure each student consumed the number of calories (energy) calculated to maximize his learning potential.

The National School



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