Children’s experienced and imaginary stories about lunch packs and lunch breaks: Associations and perceptions of school lunch among primary school students in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionFossgard, E., Wergedahl, H., & Holthe, A. (2021). Children's experienced and imaginary stories about lunch packs and lunch breaks: Associations and perceptions of school lunch among primary school students in Norway. Appetite, 164. 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105274
This article examined Norwegian students' associations with lunch packs and lunch breaks in primary schools, highlighting the Norwegian school meal system. Empathy-based stories were used; that is, participants were asked to write on a story about a good or a bad school lunch, either based on actual experiences or imagination. The data included stories from 181 fifth graders (105 girls and 76 boys) aged 10–11 years. Additionally, this study employed a social-constructivist approach. The analysis of the stories on the lunch packs resulted in four sub-themes: food and sensory properties of food; food norms and the violation of the norms; physical and psychological consequences of (not) eating lunch; and expressions of peer-relations and family bonds. The analysis of the stories on lunch breaks resulted in two sub-themes: social interaction and simultaneous activity, and contextual factors. In the stories the lunch pack was found to evoke both enthusiasm and discontent. Students' associations and perceptions of the food were often related to how it looked, smelled, and tasted. Furthermore, a clear feature of the stories concerning lunch break in the classroom was that the students were concerned with the social aspects of the eating situation, such as interacting with classmates by chatting, watching television, or listening to music together. This study can contribute to a deeper understanding of children's experiences with a school meal system used in countries within and outside the Nordic region.