While nushing on a delicious vegetable quiche at yesterday’s “Social Lunch”, I was contemplating how fussy an eater I was as a child, enjoying only potatoes and peas and maybe carrots with my meat, and only with much encouragement from my doting mom. It seems an unlikely outcome that I would become a reasonably health-conscious, vegetarian adult today.
Our Social Lunch has been a feature in our school since the beginning, when one of our three families ran a roster of one catered meal each week. Today we have Samantha Kearns, an integral member of Thandi and Bevan’s team in their family food business Timothy & Clover, offering us a carefully designed menu each week.
The intention is multifold. We want to introduce to the children new tastes within a general guideline of common-sense wholesomeness, that nevertheless achieves general satisfaction from the children. I believe Samantha has been extremely successful in striking that magical balance. Many children offer rave reviews of the food, and yesterday the salad was finished completely.
The intention of the Social Lunch is also broader than the food. The willing support from the older children to help serve the food, the agreement to wash up afterwards and also the opportunity to socialise with each other in a meal atmosphere has the huge benefit of being a vital component to achieving a healthy social life in our school.
Moreover, the meal also offers us an opportunity to create healthy ritual, which in turn builds a sense of community between us. The inspiring Burkino Faso author Malidoma Somé emphasises the power that ritual has in achieving a “sacred space” in a community. In our ongoing project of aspiring to a reflexively healthy social atmosphere at Kairos, in addition to the other rituals such as a choral song, lighting a candle and a “check-in” to begin each day, we also recite a song, poem or prayer from a different religion to begin the Social Lunch meal. While we do not want to press any belief on any child, we do want to emphasise reverence for life and for each other, and the ritual that events like Social Lunch afford has are important items in our weekly timetable.
At my primary school in the 70’s I regularly spent my pocket money on sugary sweets and drinks at our tuckshop — I’m so glad we have a school that extends our curriculum into what our children put into their bodies.