IN MY day at the Little Red School House, the standard lunch was a slicedmeat sandwich and pie affair wrapped in the cleanest piece of paper available and carried in a tin pail. There was no dearth of calories or carbohydrates, but that is about all that can be said for it. True, there were sometimes tomatoes to be dipped in salt and eaten out of the hand and occasionally an apple to “stay our stummicks” at recess, but never a hot drink or a hot bite from the time we set out about eight in the morning until we trudged home after four.
We survived in spite of, not because of, our unbalanced meal; but it is no wonder that the afternoons were pretty draggy, or that lunch hour at school is not remembered as an unmixed blessing.
Since then the child’s dinner pail has had a lot of looking into, and in the light of good nutrition has been found wanting in quality if not in quantity. Nowadays the school lunch is expected to be more than merely filling; it must provide a well rounded appetizing meal suitable to the needs of active, growing youngsters.
Perhaps your children come home at noon, which simplifies your problem but doesn’t let you out altogether. There should be simple, well-planned fare waiting for them to be eaten in jjeace and comfort with cheerful companions. It can and ought to be a meal that all the family will enjoy, supplying minerals, vitamins, proteins and other essentials in an easily digested, palatable and attractive form, with enough variety from day to day to keep the interest keen. You are not likely to go far wrong if you follow the ordinary common-sense rules for menu making, considering each dish in relaiion to the others and each meal as about one-third of the day’s food. Keep in mind that the daily diet for school children should include some substantial food such a*5 meat, fish or cheese, one egg, some whole
grain cereals or bread, two fruits, potato and two other vegetables, one of them raw, and at least a pint of milk in the form of beverage, soup, sauces or simple puddings. From that pattern plan the three meals all at once rather than one at a time, so that breakfast, lunch and dinner will be well balanced and each provide a fair share of nourishment and variety.
Many children eat their noonday meal at school, but comparatively few have the advantage of a lunch room or cafeteria where appropriate dishes are prepared and served under the supervision of a capable manager. The majority have to put up with the next best thing, and the packing of the lunch kit is a matter for serious consideration. Indeed, so important is proper food to the health and mental development of the children that many teachers, parents and School Boards have co-operated in working out a plan to supplement the box meal by a hot dish prepared in the classroom.
In some provinces grants are given for the purpose, but it is not uncommon to find teachers who have added to the fund or raised money enough through their own efforts and the help of the children. Or they have enlisted the support of Women’s institutes, United Farm Women, ParentsTeachers Associations and other organizations.
The Jar Method
ELABORATE or costly equipment is not necessary for as a rule only one simple dish such as cocoa, milk soup or a creamed dish is undertaken. Nevertheless arrangements have to be made for a small coal-oil stove or electric plate if the latter can be used, a table of some sort, pots and pans for cooking and washing up, dishes for serving, towels, covered containers for salt, sugar, flour and other staples. The list will vary according to the project, but don’t
forget a can-opener, measuring utensils, a long-handled ladle, soap, paper towels and other things of big importance. A cupboard with shelves and close-fitting doors is necessary to store equipment and supplies. This can be inexpensively constructed and planned to accommodate all essentials in a fairly small space.
An even simpler plan called the jar method is adopted by many rural school teachers where the cooking of a hot dish is not feasible. The children bring their cocoa or soup from home, then half an hour or so before the noon hour the jars are placed on a wire or a slatted wooden rack in a container —a boiler or some other deep pan—surrounded by water and placed on the stove to heat thoroughly. The teacher oversees the serving or makes the older pupils take the responsibility in turn, and the children have the comfort of something warm for their tummies.
While fewer colds and generally improved health is the most important result of the hot school lunch, that is by no means the only advantage, housekeeping and bookkeeping in connection with this can lie made a good training in team work and management, particularly when the boys and girls take part in the work. Pupils may be taught economy of food and time, and encouraged to “mind their manners” at the table.
Correlation of this with other subjects will make all of them more interesting. Instruction in food values and food selection ties in with the hygiene programme, while adjusting the recipes and estimating the cost are practical exercises in arithemetic. A study of the source, the condition under which the food is produced, the route and
HELEN G. CAMPBELL
The Chatelaine Institute
means of transportation, will make geography lesson something more than a jumble of funny names.
It is possible of course to pack a box lunch which is adequate and appetizing in all respects if the container is fitted with a Thermos bottle, to keep hot things hot until serving time.
The menu should be decided with a thought to the age of the child, the season of the year, the proper combination of dishes and harmonizing flavor. Sandwiches contribute a good deal of nourishment, and where is the child who doesn’t like them provided they are not the same yesterday, today and forever. Vary the fillings with different kinds of meats, fish, cheese, eggs and a variety of cooked or raw vegetables, many of which go well with the more hearty ingredients mentioned. Peanut butter makes a good spread, chopped nuts are good, and there are tasty varieties of prepared fillings which are quite suitable. Jam, marmalade, honey, and cooked dried fruits are only a few suggestions for dessert sandwiches.
Should you run out of ideas for different fillings, try using another kind of bread — whole wheat, rye, raisin, slices of nut and date loaf, split muffins or biscuits, corn bread or crackers. Leave on the crusts and spread the slices right to the edge, first with well-softened butter and then with the filling. Cut into convenient size, occasionally in fancy shapes just for a change. Wrap each kind separately in wax paper to keep them fresh and attractive in taste and appearance.
For dessert there is a wide choice of fresh fruit in season, stewed fruit and canned varieties, custard plain or with additions, milk puddings, jellied fruits or fruit juices, or some other nourishing dish of appealing flavor. To go with a light sweet, simple cookies a square plain cake or ginger bread are appropriate selections.
The vacuum bottle solves the beverage problem whether the season calls for a hot drink or a cool one. Milk, cocoa and fruitjuice mixtures are suggestions any boy and girl will approve.
Many a good lunch is spoiled by careless packing, and there is really no excuse for it. Wax paper, paper plates, paper table napkins, and other accessories are inexpensive and useful. Glass jars with tightly-fitting covers hold salads, desserts or semi-liquid foods and the Thermos bottle looks after the beverage or the soup if no hot dish is prepared at school. What about the container itself? It should be sturdy and strong, but light to carry, covered closely but not airtight. It should be easily and thoroughly cleaned, washed, scalded and aired each day.
Young Canada starts back to school this month. There are busy hours of work and play ahead, but none are more important than the meal hours.
School Lunch Menus
Dishes marked * supplied at school.
Cream of Tomato Soup Brown Bread and Butter Sandwiches Celery
Date and Nut Sandwiches Apple Gingersnaps
Lettuce Sandwiches Raw Carrot Strips
Buttered Raisin Bread Milk*
Chopped Hard-cooked Egg and Bacon Sandwiches
Cottage Cheese and Prune Sandwiches Banana Ice-box Cookies Cocoa*
Salmon and Celery Sandwiches Orange Sponge Cake
Box Lunches Brought From Home
Chopped Chicken or Cold Meat Sandwich
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cup Custard
Dates . Milk
(in Thermos bottle)
Grated Carrot and Cabbage Sandwich Cracker Sandwich Spread with Cream Cheese
Apple Sauce Molasses Cookies Square of Milk Chocolate Milk (in Thermos bottle)
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