Schooling Food: Nourishing a nation?

Remember these vintage desks housing books, rulers, compasses (remember when those sharp and potentially lethal objects were allowed!) and mouldy old oranges? Those days sure brought back memories at the inaugural opening on Monday 18 February of the Schooling Food: Nourishing a Nation exhibition held at Monash University.

Featured in the photo is Deana Leahy, lead researcher and curator of the exhibition.  The symposium brought together researchers, community food educators, food historians, anthropologists, home economics teachers and all those interested in topics of how, why and what kids eat at school and how their parents and their kids face the daily conundrum of putting that snack and lunch together.

The exhibition and program of events presents our research findings in a way that seeks to engage the sensory and the playful. It invites people to think about school food and family food in ways that tend to the complexities of food in everyday life, both at home and at school.

Schooling Food

SF- Nourishing a Nation-A4-F2

As a food skills researcher and home economics teacher, and someone who works with students every day, I have a core fascination of the evolution of ‘the school lunch’ and how parents and kids solve that dilemma day in-day out, every day of the school year, each day for 12 years. It’s an enigma.

Interesting to hear how parents meet this challenge and some of the problems they come up against such as competitive food and how they meet their kids’ expectations and balancing out the need (and pressure from their own kids) to round out the healthy items with a ‘treat’.

The evolution of the school canteen as a key stakeholder in the food solution showed how canteen menus have changed too. Like the parents, canteens reflected the same challenge of balancing out the healthy food options with ‘treats’.

Parents share their lunchbox dilemmas

For more information about Schooling Food visit

Want to direct parents, kids and teachers on ideas for School lunches? Try these ideas from reliable sources