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The Swedish School Meal as a Public Meal: Collective Thinking, Actions and Meal Patterns
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to study what role the Swedish school meal has as a public meal in Swedish culture. An additional aim is to study the meal patterns of children, including the school meal.

An ethnological questionnaire with 192 informants was used to study people’s perceptions and memories of the school meal. The school meal was seen as part of the Swedish welfare state, but also as a second-class meal, which did not live up to the ideal, which was a meal with the same values as a meal served at home.

Observations in school canteens (25 hours), interviews with the school meal staff (six informants) and focus group interviews with children in grade 4-5 (seven groups with a total of 52 children) were carried out at three schools in central Sweden. Firstly, the data was analysed as to how the teachers interacted with the children in relation to the pedagogic meal. The teachers took on three different roles:  “the sociable teacher role”, “the educating teacher role” and “the evasive teacher role”. Secondly, the children’s understanding of food and meals in the school meal context was analysed. The results showed that the children used ideas from the adult world among their peers in the school meal situation. This included the implementation of institutional commensality, the telling of stories about food and the classification of foods in dichotomies.

A questionnaire covering the meal patterns of the children and intake of some snack foods was also distributed to the children attending grade 4-5 at the three schools and their parents. Matched pairs (n=147) were analysed for agreement. Most children had a regular meal pattern, and there was general agreement between child and parent reports, except for sweets and chocolate.

The expectations on the school meal are high. At the same time, there appears to be a social construction depicting the school meal in a negative way. In order to come to terms with the negative public view of the school meal, the social construction of the school meal needs to be addressed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2012. , p. 85
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 80
Keyword [en]
school meal, children, school, social constructionism, teachers, agreement, meal
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-178161ISBN: 978-91-554-8431-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-178161DiVA: diva2:544062
Public defence
2012-09-28, C8:305, BMC, Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-09-07 Created: 2012-07-30 Last updated: 2013-01-22
List of papers
1. Perceptions and memories of the free school meal in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perceptions and memories of the free school meal in Sweden
2010 (English)In: Food, Culture and Society, ISSN 1528-9796, Vol. 13, no 4, p. 555-572Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present article was to gain a deeper understanding of the free school meal as an embedded phenomenon in the Swedish culture. This was achieved by studying perceptions and memories of the Swedish school meal. One hundred and ninety-two informants took part in the study by responding to an ethnological questionnaire. The results showed that the school meal was seen as a second-class meal with regard to the staff, environment and to some extent the food. The school meal was also seen as part of the Swedish welfare state, as it represents universal and equal social benefits for everyone. One interpretation of this is that the informants liked the idea of having a free public school meal, but that the meal does not live up to their expectations, that is, a meal with the same values as one served at home.

Keyword
school meal, ethnological questionnaire, social constructionism
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-133228 (URN)10.2752/175174410X12777254289420 (DOI)000208391000006 ()
Available from: 2010-11-03 Created: 2010-11-03 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
2. Teachers' interaction with children in the school meal situation: The example of pedagogic meals in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers' interaction with children in the school meal situation: The example of pedagogic meals in Sweden
2013 (English)In: Journal of nutrition education and behavior, ISSN 1499-4046, E-ISSN 1878-2620, Vol. 45, no 5, p. 420-427Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: School meals are also a teaching occasion in which children learn about food and meals, which is referred to as "pedagogic meals" in Sweden. The aim of the present article was to study how the pedagogic meal is practiced in preschool and school settings, with focus on how teachers acted when interacting with the children. 

Design: Observations, interviews, and focus group interviews. 

Setting: School canteens. 

Participants: Three schools. 

Phenomenon of Interest: Teaching in the school meal situation. 

Analysis: Social constructionism, new social studies of childhood. 

Results: The teachers took on 3 different roles. The sociable teacher role entailed turning the school lunch into a social occasion, the educating teacher role involved educating the children, and the evasive teacher role was not associated with the definition of a pedagogic meal. The teacher roles, which ranged from adult-oriented to child-oriented, and which varied in the level of interaction with the children, were summarized in a framework named the Adult-to Child-oriented Teacher Role Framework for School Meals (ACTS). 

Conclusions and Implications: To realize the potential of pedagogic meals, teachers must be educated and become aware of the effects of their behaviors. In this situation, the ACTS framework can constitute a useful tool.

National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Social Sciences
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-176896 (URN)10.1016/j.jneb.2013.02.008 (DOI)000324751400007 ()
Available from: 2012-06-27 Created: 2012-06-27 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
3. Children's understanding of food and meals in the foodscape at school
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Children's understanding of food and meals in the foodscape at school
2012 (English)In: International Journal of Consumer Studies, ISSN 1470-6423, E-ISSN 1470-6431, Vol. 36, no 1, p. 54-60Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Children come into contact with food in different places and contexts, i.e. ‘foodscapes’. The aim of the paper was to study what knowledge children construct regarding food and meals in the foodscape at school and how they do so, focusing on the school meal context. Observations, interviews and focus group interviews were used. The children appropriated ideas and understandings from the adult world and society as a whole and used it among their peers in the school meal situation. This included the adoption of institutional commensality, the telling of stories about food, and the classification of foods in dichotomies.

National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-163029 (URN)10.1111/j.1470-6431.2011.01003.x (DOI)000298875300009 ()
Available from: 2011-12-07 Created: 2011-12-07 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
4. Agreement between child and parent reports of 10- to 12-year-old children’s meal pattern and intake of snack foods
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Agreement between child and parent reports of 10- to 12-year-old children’s meal pattern and intake of snack foods
2012 (English)In: Journal of human nutrition and dietetics (Print), ISSN 0952-3871, E-ISSN 1365-277X, Vol. 25, no 1, p. 50-58Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background:  Dietary assessment in children is associated with misreporting, which is a problem with both child and parent reports. Therefore, it is of interest to study how children and parents report children's eating, respectively, although comparative studies are rare. The aim of the present article was to study the meal patterns and intake of certain snack foods of 10- to 12-year-old children as reported by the children and their parents, respectively, and to determine whether there was agreement between the child and parent reports. An additional aim was to study what factors might influence rater agreement.

Methods:  School children aged 10-12 years and their parents were given parallel questionnaires regarding the children's meal pattern. Matched pairs (n = 147) were analysed for agreement. Descriptive statistics were used to study all variables. Rater agreement and whether agreement depends on the age and the sex of the child, the sex of the parent and household type were analysed using ordinal regression models. Correlations between the child and parent assessments were estimated as polychoric correlations.

Results:  There was a general agreement between child and parent reports, except with respect to sweets and chocolate, where children reported less frequent consumption than the parents did (P = 0.0001). The sex of the child was a significant factor regarding consumption of in-between meals (P = 0.0001) and soft drinks (P = 0.01). Most children had breakfast, school lunch and dinner every day, whereas it was less common to report daily consumption of in-between meals.

Conclusions:  There was a general agreement between children's and parents' reports, and most children were reported to have a regular meal pattern.

National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Food, Nutrition and Dietetics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-160637 (URN)10.1111/j.1365-277X.2011.01169.x (DOI)000299203600007 ()21615554 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2011-10-27 Created: 2011-10-27 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved

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