Article Text

Download PDFPDF
From poor law society to the welfare state: school meals in Norway 1890s–1950s
  1. Astri Andresen1,
  2. Kari Tove Elvbakken2
  1. 1Department of History, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  2. 2Rokkan Centre, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Astri Andresen
 University of Bergen, Department of History, Sydnesplassen 7, Bergen N-5007, Norway; astri.andresen{at}


This article examines the main trends in the history of publicly organised school meals in Norway, while casting comparative glances at Britain. First, it argues that the status of school meals today is strongly influenced by three intertwined strains of past tradition: poor relief, universal welfare and the ideal of full-time and nutritionally competent housewives. Second, tradition is also visible in the extent to which publicly organised meals are seen as solutions to problems – in the past to hunger or malnourishment, today to obesity and malnourishment – and not simply as a meal. Third, the creation of civil and health conscious citizens has, to varying degrees, been a part of the school meals programme, as the school itself has had, and continues to have, such an agenda.

  • school meal
  • health citizenship
  • motherhood
  • obesity
  • universalism

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: None declared.

Linked Articles

  • In this issue
    Carlos Alvarez-Dardet John R Ashton