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Food at the Heart

Exhibition Piece: This minute book holds the detailed accounts of the Canteen Committee. It has information on the types of meals and number of children served, state of finances, and surveys taken across the board. The matters discussed are not much different from those that are debated today.

Discovered within the archives is a minute book that belongs to the Canteen Committee.  It contains all notes from meetings which took place between the canteen staff and school board.  A number of surveys were conducted throughout the years, which aimed to improve diet, queues, the room and decorations, and finances.

Below is an extract detailing the first school meal in 1939:

“The first school meal was served on Wednesday, 13th September, to 165 scholars and 13 Staff.  The experiment of using the corridor for the meal has proved most satisfactory and saves the hall floor considerably.  Our thanks and congratulations are due to Miss Varley, the Domestic Staff, and all the girls who have worked so hard to make the meal such an outstanding success.

A few specimen menus are given below: -

  1. Baked sausage, marrow, potatoes; steamed apple pudding.
  2. Shepherd’s pie, cabbage; banana custard.
  3. Ox heart soup, bread; spotted dick.
  4. Cheese and potato pie, tomato; jam tart.
  5. Beef stew; plums and custard.
  6. Liver hot-pot, potatoes; baked date pudding.     
  7. Dutch roll, potatoes, peas; fruit salad and custard.

The number of meals served in September, October and November was respectively 2,383, 3,614 and 3,503.”

Meal times were, and are, very socialable occasions.  Unlike today, in the early years a teacher would sit at the head of each table and assist the children in serving their meal.  This created a family type atmosphere which was strongly encouraged by the educationalist, Henry Morris.

“The common meal is not an extra at Impington.  It has a place of honour in the curriculum…  A boy or girl who has sat through these common meals for four or five years will have acquired sound food habits for life…”

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