school lunches 100 years

Many people remember eating lunch at school. At different times, it may have been a Superman or Charlie’s Angels lunchbox, a brown bag or school lunch.

The school lunch evolution is quite the story. Schools began providing lunches to students in the early 1900s and they looked nothing like the lunches kids eat today.

What were kids served for hot lunch a hundred years ago?

For some time, for only a penny, kids could feed themselves with a pickle. Yes. Just a pickle. Over time, lunches evolved, providing kids with more food that was more satisfying. However, gruel such as boiled beef, prunes, cottage cheese sandwiches, liver loaf, and pea soup, all became staples thanks to government programs that paved the way for farm surplus to wind up on school lunch trays. And more likely than not, in the garbage can.

Because of the baby-boom, lunches adjusted once again with items that could be produced on a larger scale now that more kids were going to school. Additionally, standards for nutrition were relaxed, allowing schools to give kids food they would actually enjoy eating. In the 80s, it resulted in the serving of frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, pudding, and canned fruit cocktail.

Why do some schools have fast food?

The looser nutrition standards made room for fast food companies to enter the school lunch marketplace. Thanks to the dollars they brought to the program, kids had their fill of their favorite indulgences. Success! Alas, parents fed their kids too much fast food at home and when they started getting fat, the government had to shift again.

So long cheeseburgers, fries, and soft drinks. Hello grilled chicken, baked potato chips, celery sticks, and milk! It was time once again to serve up “nutritional” school lunches that kids didn’t like with many of them meeting their end at the bottom of a garbage can once again.

Of course, there’s an easy solution for all this: Let schools give kids lunch at school they know kids will eat and enjoy. Let parents deal with what they eat the rest of the week. It worked in the past. It can work again.

Mentioned in this article:

More About: