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American School Lunch Is Becoming More Diverse, Like It Was in the 1910s

Melanie Wong | Apr 24, 201912:02 PM     1

" . . . There’s a phrase for Dao’s experience: the lunchbox moment. While the food in these stories is diverse, from Filipino lumpia Shanghai to Cameroon peanut sauce, the emotional experience is similar: self-consciousness about cuisine whose supposedly 'stinky' flavors signal racial and cultural difference. In these accounts, school cafeteria meatloaf and tater tots are symbols of a white American culture that rejects immigrant children.

The alienating symbolism of cafeteria food is as old as the National School Lunch Program. But it wasn’t always that way. While the National School Lunch Act was signed in 1946, the country’s first school food programs began decades earlier, in the immigrant tenements of turn-of-the-century cities. In these early lunchrooms, diversity ruled. . ."

American School Lunch Is Becoming More Diverse, Like It Was In The 1910s

The cafeteria program started in immigrant communities.

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