Thursday, August 28, 2014

School Lunches 1916.

Do you prepare a packed lunch every day for a schoolchild in your family? If so, this post is especially for you.

The principles of lunch provision for children – and the general nutrition advice of the time – were not so different back in 1916 when School Lunches; USDA Farmers’ Bulletin No. 712 was published. The authors were impressively qualified for the job: Carolina Hunt was ‘Assistant in Home Economics, States Relations Service’, and Mabel Ward had lately held the position of ‘Director of Home Science, Mississippi Industrial Institute and College.’

I give you an extract from the very comprehensive advice provided by this little book.
What should school children be given to eat at noon? What foods are best for the school lunch basket? The frequent asking of these questions shows that mothers and others interested in children’s welfare have unusual difficulty in planning this meal. There are no special scientific principles which apply to it more than to the other meals, for, of courses, choosing healthful foods and preparing them carefully are no more necessary at this than at either of the other meals of the child’s day. Nor is it wise always to study one meal apart from the other two. The three taken together must, if they are to satisfy the needs of the growing body, supply several different kinds of food materials.

… Any discussion of lunches for school children must therefore, take into account (1) the children who go home at midday, (2) those who carry their lunches, (3) those who buy them at shops or at the school, (4) those how are supplied by the school through the cooking classes, and (5) those who carry part of each day’s lunch, and depend on being able to buy something at or near the school to add to what they carry. …..

… The essentials of the diet of all normal children, are, of course, the same – namely, an abundance of simple foods carefully prepared and of sufficient variety to provide for activity, which in healthy children is almost ceaseless during waking hours, and for development into healthy manhood and womanhood. ….

The basket lunch is harder to plan and also to prepare than the lunch at home. To begin with, there are many foods which cannot be included in it, either because they are not good cold, or because they cannot be conveniently packed or easily carried. This leave fewer foods to chose from, and so extra care is necessary to prevent sameness. Extra care is needed too, in the preparation of foods that must be packed in small compass and kept for several hours before being eaten and that must very often be carried over dusty roads.
On the other hand, the number of foods that can be easily carried has been enlarged of late by the possibility of using paraffin paper and parchment paper, in which moist foods can be wrapped so as to prevent them from sticking to other foods. Paper cups, jelly glasses, and so on, are also a help, for in them sliced raw fruits, stewed fruits, custards, cottage cheee, and other half-solid foods can be carried.
The quality of the bread used in the basket lunch is especially important because it is commonly served in the form of sandwiches and is, therefore, to be considered not only as a food in itself, but also as a means of keeping other much-needed foods in good and appetizing condition, or of serving them in attractive ways.
Variety in breads too, is more important at this than at other meals because of the danger of monotony. Wheat bread, wholewheat bread, corn, rye, or oatmeal breads; nut, raising, and date breads; beaten biscuit, rolls, crisp baking powder biscuit or soda biscuit, and toast, zwieback, and crackers may be used in turn to give variety. Rolls hollowed out can be made to hold a large amount of sandwich filling, which is an advantage at times.

Many kinds of lunch boxes, pails, and baskets are now on the market. The chief advantage of most boxes and pails is that they can be easily cleaned and scalded to keep them in safe condition. Some baskets are ventilated and for this reason suitable for carrying moist foods which are likely to spoil. There is no reason, however, why small holes cannot be punched in metal boxes or pails to let in the air. ….

…. In packing the lunch basket, put at the bottom the things least likely to crush, and wrap the sandwiches, etc. into neat parcels, not all in one. 

1.      Sandwiches with sliced tender meat for filling: baked apple, cookies or a few lumps of sugar.
2.      Slices of meat loaf or bean loaf; bread and butter sandwiches; stewed fruit; small frosted cake.
3.      Crisp rolls, hollowed out and filled with chopped meat or fish, moistened and seasoned, or mixed with salad dressing; orange, apple, a mixture of sliced fruits, or berries; cake.
4.      Lettuce or celery sandwiches; cup custard; jelly sandwiches.
5.      Cottage cheese and chopped green-pepper sandwiches or a pot of cream cheese with bread and butter sandiwiches; peanut sandwiches.
6.      Hard-boiled eggs; crisp baking-powder biscuits; celery or radishes; brown-sugar or maple-sugar sandwiches.
7.      Bottle of milk; thin corn bread and butter; dates; apple.
8.      Raisin or nut bread with butter; cheese; orange; maple sugar.
9.      Baked bean and lettuce sandwiches; apple sauce; sweet chocolate.

The book contains a number of recipes, primarily for the use of schools which provide lunch for students. The following instructions would result in a robust, tasty confection for a little treat.

1 pound figs
1 pound dried prunes or seedless raisins
1 pound nut meats.
Confectioners’ sugar.
Wash, pick over, and stem the fruits and put them with the nut meats through a meat chopper, and mix thoroughly. Roll out to the thickness of about one-half inch on a board dredged with confectioners’ sugar, and cut into small pieces. If this candy is to be kept for some time, the pieces should be separated by means of paraffin paper.
Provides 24 2-ounce portions.


korenni said...

Mabel Ward may well have been at Mississippi II&C when my grandmother was a student there (kicking up all kinds of ruckus and NOT learning to cook, but that's another story). My mother also went there for a year, but it was Mississippi State College for Women then. Now my godson is going there, and it's Mississippi University for Women; I don't know what they'll name it next.

I would have loved to have had most of those lunches, but mostly for me it was tuna salad sandwiches and carrot and celery sticks in melted waxed-paper bags (sigh). So interesting that they had "paraffin paper" as early as 1916! I hope it resisted liquid better than what we had in the 1960s.

Shay said...

The inclusion of lump sugar in one lunch is interesting -- sugar was considered healthy for kids back them. The makers of Karo syrup (corn-based) suggested in their advertisements that it be administered to children by the spoonful, like tonic.