The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between lunchboxes, fun food and leisure. Looking beyond concerns focusing solely on health and nutrition, this article unpacks how mothers seek to provide lunchtime food that is also a source of leisure and pleasure.
Photo-elicitation interviews and a focus group were conducted with 11 mothers who regularly prepare lunchboxes for their children aged between 9 and 11 years.
Mothers intend the food they provide to act as a leisure experience and a break from the pressures of school. Mothers understand that lunchboxes must fit with children’s other activities taking place in their lunch-hour. Lunchboxes should support children’s future leisure opportunities by providing nutrition and variety to support their growth and development. The discussion of lunchboxes also shows that fun food is not simply understood in opposition to healthy food. Mothers have a wider understanding of the transgressive nature of fun through food, which goes beyond the market offer and understanding of fun.
As the study is based on a small sample of relatively affluent families in the UK, caution is needed in generalising the findings to wider groups. However, the study offers qualitative insights and highlights the connections between leisure, fun food and lunchboxes that can be explored in further research.
This is the first paper to explore the interconnections between lunchboxes, fun food and leisure. It provides valuable insight into mothers’ views about food prepared at home for consumption at school.
The authors would like to thank the research participants.
Harman, V. and Cappellini, B. (2014), "Unpacking fun food and children’s leisure: mothers’ perspectives on preparing lunchboxes", Young Consumers, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 312-322. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-11-2013-00410
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