There is an ongoing debate around the world as to the proper constituents of the mid-day meal at school – and who should provide this, and what is the place of legislation in their provision. It is a veritable battlefield for parents, school committees, nutritionists, and politicians – but none of the questions or issues are new. A letter to the Editor of The Times (of London) in January 17, 1922 referred specifically to boarding schools, and is most interesting.
Articles about the feeding of schoolboys are not uncommon in newspapers and other publications, but I don’t recollect ever seeing one on the feeding of schoolgirls. Which speaks volumes unrelated to nutrition, does it not?
Here is the piece from The Times:
THE FEEDING OF SCHOOLBOYS.
A MATTER FOR EXPERTS.
Sir, - I should be glad if you would draw attention to a subject which I believe has not been sufficiently studied – the feeding of schoolboys. Active, growing boys, the surface of whose bodes is large compared to their weight, need careful and abundant feeding, and before the powers of the human machine can be rightly educated or drawn out, attention must be paid to whatever is put in.
In “Food and How to Save It,” written by Dr. Spriggs in wartime, he says that he amounts of food needed each week in schools for children over 13 years of age will be similar to those needed for grown-up people lightly occupied. Here is an example of one day’s dietary, scientifically and economically arranged by him: - Breakfast – one egg, bread and butter, marmalade, coffee, milk; dinner – meat, vegetables, bread, milk; tea- bread, oatcake, butter, jam, tea, milk; supper – bread, fish, butter, cheese, stewed fruit.
In the face of this it is disconcerting to know that there are houses at our public schools where nothing but bread and butter is served to the boys after their mid-day dinner. The boy whose parents provide him with the money remedies this state of things for himself. But from observations made in the “tuck shops” at Harrow and Eton, his choice is no wiser than his house-master’s and what I wish to suggest is that the choice should lie with neither of them, but should be determined by experts.
Some years ago the schoolboy’s need of sleep was made the subject of fruitful controversy. If you think his diet should be improved also, I shall be glad if you will find room for this letter.
I have found a copy of Dr. Spriggs’ book Food and How to Save It (1918) which was mentioned in the article above, so am delighted to be able to offer you something from it which would be entirely suitable for filling the void in the hungry schoolboys in your life – although they might want a large amount of ketchup to aid their ingestion:
Take 1 lb. of boiled potatoes, and while hot work into them, by mashing, 3 oz. of flour to make a stiff paste. Roll this out and cut in six squares. Soak 2 oz. of breadcrumbs in a little water, squeeze them dry and make a forcemeat with half an onion, which has been soaked in boiling water, ½ oz. of chopped parsley or herbs, and a little nutmeg. Add seasoning. Put some of the forcemeat into each square of potato paste, and roll like a sausage roll. Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes. The batch gives about 770 calories.
Once when the food budget got tight at school at the end of the month, we had stew and white bread for three days straight at supper. It was a good stew, with plenty of meat and vegetables in it, so it wasn't as if we suffered nutritionally, but there was certainly a lot of grumbling among the girls!
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