University of Hertfordshire

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Laura Hamilton - Speaker

Outside the home, school is where children spend the majority of their time and consume a third of their food and drink [1]. Schools have long been understood as an important setting for nutritional intervention. Yet research suggests there are tensions between children constructed as ‘consumers’ versus children as ‘citizens’ [2]. Whilst the money available to children as food ‘consumers’ is likely to influence their food and eating practices, few studies examine how children’s food and eating at school are mediated by income, or compares the experiences of those from lower and higher-income households. In addition, little is known about the extent to which local school food practices influence their experiences. This paper addresses these gaps by analysing thirty-five in depth qualitative cases of young people from lower and higher-income households attending different schools in an inner London borough. The cases, based on interviews with children and their parents, are drawn from a doctoral study that is linked to a mixed methods study of ‘Families and Food in Hard Times’ (ERC grant agreement n° 337977) [3]. Findings suggest that local school food practices, low-incomes and free school meals constrain how much, when and what food young people can buy in school, at times leading to hunger and shame. This is in contrast to the autonomy and choice experienced by young people from higher-income families, suggesting that whilst school meals offer potential opportunities for fostering a sense of shared community they can also perpetuate and deepen social inequalities.
22 Jun 2021

Event (Conference)

TitleBSA Food Study Group Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

ID: 25574593