Cat no. 1167

Midday Adventure

Running time21:23 Black & White Sound c.1958 Essex

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A look into healthy, freshly cooked meals at a school in Essex.



Shots of primary school children eating lunch. A bell tolls at a village school to call the children to lunch outdoors. Interior views show children washing their hands and putting on aprons as part of their 'social education'. In the dining room they stand behind their tables and say grace before sitting down. They are served lunch or, as the commentary expresses it "given the opportunity to enjoy new and interesting food". There are shots of the staff preparing food, so that the children can enjoy the pleasures of food cooked and served to perfection.

The film then looks in detail at the preparation of food through the perspective of a school meals assistant arriving for her first day at work. 'Mrs. Crossley' is met by the supervisor and taken through basic hygiene routines. There must be no smoking and jewellery must be removed. All clothing must be covered by the overall and a cap must cover hair completely. Mrs. Crossley then washes her hands. The film gives a typical menu for the day. Roast lamb and mint sauce with roast potatoes, carrot and cabbage followed by apple tart and custard. (Actually the potatoes are par-boiled and fried!) We see the vegetables, meat and fruit prepared using various items of industrial catering machinery. The cabbage is shredded so that the vitamin content is retained to the full. Having been shredded it is boiled for 10 minutes and then left standing for a further ten minutes before the children come in to eat.

The film shows several methods of serving school dinners. The first shown is Family Service. One of the older children collects food for the whole table and serves the younger children. Another, operated in smaller primary schools is Trolley Service where the kitchen staff serve the children individually from a trolley in the dining hall. The Cafeteria Service, where the children are served at the hatch, allows a choice of meals.

The film features a secondary school where the midday meal is incorporated into the House system. Back in the kitchen the staff wash up and a sample meal is preserved so that in the event of food poisoning school meals can be readily exonerated from blame. The supervisor maintains her records and accounts. The dry ingredients are prepared for the next day and the staff go home. As they leave the commentary extols the virtues of a job in school catering. Basically the pay is low and for thirteen weeks of the year you only receive half of your basic salary, but you are home for the children and there is job satisfaction!


The commentary is presented by Richard Baker, television newsreader.

Featured Organisations:

Essex County Council Education Committee School Meals Service

Essex County Council, School Meals Service

Essex County Council Film Unit

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