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The Hot Lunch Plan

Lunch at Lincoln High 1906 Serving Lunch at Lincoln High in 1906

As many Nebraska students head off for school, they’ll check to see “what’s for lunch.” The hot lunch program has become a taken-for-granted feature of most Nebraska schools. The federal government developed the current subsidized school nutrition program shortly after World War II. But long before the government got involved, teachers and parents worked to come up with a workable hot lunch plan, particularly for rural schools. Some rural students enjoyed a warm meal as part of the “pint jar plan.” The Sarpy County Agriculturist reported in 1930, “Of about 400 boys and girls already enrolled in hot lunch work in Nebraska, 132 are working on the new 1929 plan. Each pupil brings to school in addition to the cold lunch, some nutritious food already prepared and placed in his own pint fruit jar. These jars of food are placed in a kettle of warm water at school and heated for the hot portions of the school lunches. “The pint jar eliminates the largest part of the labor which it requires when the hot dish is prepared at school each morning. At recess time the kettle containing the jars of food is set on the stove and by noon the food is hot for serving. Usually each pupil brings a cup or bowl and a spoon in the lunch box each day. The dishes are then taken home at night to be washed.” “The pint jar plan” was a far cry from today’s school lunch program, but it provided a much  needed change from the cold sandwich lunch many students ate daily throughout the school year.

 

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