Child Health & School meals: Nottingham 1906-1945


By Dr Denise Amos, published 1st December 2006

Following Jamie Oliver’s devastating television series on the inadequacy of school meals the present government has been quick to be seen to address the situation. In September 2005, Ruth Kelly, the then Education Secretary, announced a war on junk food in schools.1 This was nothing new, because the history of school meals provision has long been a political minefield. It has involved controversy over the role of the state and the family, welfare and education, and the role of the school.2 In this article I want to examine the provision of school meals in Nottingham during the period 1906-1945, and to examine how the ideas behind why meals were provided changed from the hidden agenda of ‘social education’, which entailed the provision of meals at the cheapest possible price in order for the children to be able to learn, to one of providing a meal which met their needs in terms of health, growth and energy, especially in times of war.3 It is 100 years since the 1906 Education (Provision of Meals) Act...

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