As “Lunch Lines” illustrates, the school cafeteria can be fraught with tension and social inequity. Often, teachers don’t even know what happens when their students go to lunch. By using this toolkit, you and your colleagues will learn more about issues of equity as they are related to school lunch. You will then learn about what is happening in your school cafeteria and consider the impact on students from different backgrounds. If you discover inequity, you will have the tools to take action toward resolving the problems.
- What is the relationship between lunchtime and equity?
- How are socioeconomic differences handled at lunchtime in your school?
- What actions can you and colleagues take to make lunchtime more just for students?
- With a group of colleagues, read the article “Lunch Lines.” Before discussing the article, choose 2-4 of the following resources to read through in order to supplement your understanding of the issues:
- “Competitive Foods, Discrimination and Participation in the National School Lunch Program”
- Food Research and Action Center
- National School Lunch Program
- “Not Just for Poor Kids: The Impact of Universal Free School Breakfast on Meal Participation and Student Outcomes”
- America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids
- With your colleagues, discuss what you have learned. What issues stood out to you the most from the article and the supplemental resources you read? What remaining questions do you have? What are your current views about equity issues in relation to school lunch, broadly?
- With your colleagues, make and implement a research plan to learn how the equity issues you just learned about play out in your cafeteria. This may involve talking to students, administrators or people who work in your school cafeteria. You can also talk with interested people at other schools in or near your community or contact experts from the organizations listed above. After you have done research, come back together as a group to discuss your data and findings.
- Have you discovered issues of inequity? If so, your next step is to make an action plan to change the culture of your school cafeteria. This is your chance to take on a leadership role and really consider the best avenue for changing things. Perhaps you, colleagues, students and families need to form a committee that makes a strategic plan over time for making lunch more equitable. Maybe you want to write a letter or set up meetings with your administrators, or maybe you and colleagues simply need to do some education with the rest of your colleagues about how lunch can look different. With your group, come up with a viable plan for taking action.