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Unpacking fun food and children’s leisure: mothers’ perspectives on preparing lunchboxes

Vicki Harman (Lecturer in Sociology, based at School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Surrey, UK)
Benedetta Cappellini (Lecturer in Marketing, based at School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Surrey, UK)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the research participants.

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited