School meals are part and parcel of our teaching – says Helene Augustsson firmly. Helene is responsible for school meals at Kålltorp School, a school with around 480 pupils aged 10-16, in the major Swedish city of Gothenburg.
“We started with a breakfast project,” continues Helene, “where I gave information over breakfast in our school dining hall. Then we went on to lunch music with our pupils and music teacher and manners and etiquette for our grade nine pupils.
We have a lot to offer in this school, it’s a question of give and take between the teaching staff and the school meals staff. We work together with the class teachers, home economics teachers, music teachers… Everyone has a really positive attitude here.” Helene’s colleague Anna nods in agreement.
There are lots of examples at Kålltorpsskolan of how teachers and school meals staff can work together to make food and mealtimes more enjoyable. To heighten awareness of their own breakfast habits, pupils in grades 1, 3 and 9 kept a breakfast diary for a week. The older pupils had to write in English. At the end of the week they ate breakfast in the school dining hall where Helene talked about what makes a good and healthy breakfast.
“They sat and enjoyed their breakfasts. After trying a good breakfast in both theory and practice the pupils kept their breakfast diaries for one more week – to see if they had improved or changed their breakfast habits.”
Capturing pupils’ interest in food seems to be a guiding light at Kålltorpsskolan. In the ninth grade pupils are taught about manners and etiquette with their class teachers – centering round a meal of course. The school kitchen served a fresh chicken salad, bread rolls and home made dressing. The pupils in turn prepared speeches and practiced oral presentation and good table manners.
“The pupils thought the lesson was fun and that they learned a lot all round,” Siv Govenius, the teacher who initiated this lesson, tells us. “We in the teaching staff are so privileged to have a school meals staff who are so open to working together with the teaching staff on projects.”
Give and take – the teaching staff are no less generous with their resources. Pupils and music teachers sometimes hold lunchtime concerts, to provide a little extra special atmosphere while the pupils are eating.
“Meals aren’t just about eating food, they are part of our educational work, ” says Helene. “That’s how we should see the school meal – an important subject that covers social skills, health and our immediate environment.”
The school meal staff at Kålltorpsskolan take a firm pedagogical stance – learning with meals. In class 3b the pupils have tested the School Meals Academy’s on-line questionnaire about school meals. And the pupils in the other grade 3 class, busy eating fruit, bread and cheese and telling us how much they like their school dining hall, know why it’s important to eat regularly:
“When your lunch energy is used up you need to start using your snack energy,” say Amanda, Liv and the other girls.