School Food Hero and the Battle of the Food Foe: a story of public health policy, power imbalance and potential

HAWKINS, Anna and RUNDLE, Rachel (2024). School Food Hero and the Battle of the Food Foe: a story of public health policy, power imbalance and potential. Social Science and Medicine, 342: 116520.

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This paper explores the impact of school food policy from the perspective of school food workers to offer an alternative account of why school food may not be having the desired impact on child health or food choices. Drawing upon the findings from an institutional ethnography carried out in three UK primary schools, we argue that school food is being asked to perform an unrealistic task of luring children and families away from more unhealthy food options, without being given adequate resources or powers to do this job effectively. We theorise that the narrative depicting school food as a hero, combatting the harms of poor dietary choices and poor health outcomes, is inappropriate as a countermeasure to mitigate the effects of wider food industry forces. We revisit the narrative to consider the power imbalances within society that structure dietary choices, presenting our findings and the wider policy review in the form of a story about the evolution of school food set against a shifting food environment. We conclude with recommendations for policy makers who want to see school food have a greater impact in improving child health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical and Health Sciences; 14 Economics; 16 Studies in Human Society; Public Health; 38 Economics; 42 Health sciences; 44 Human society
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SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2024 10:32
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 10:45

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