The relationship between policy and place: The role of school meals in addressing health inequalities

Jo Pike, Derek Colquhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Healthy eating in schools is central to UK Government attempts to redress nutritional deficiencies and combat childhood obesity. However, there is little consideration of the local, contextual spatial factors that contribute to the ways in which particular policy initiatives are experienced at the school level. This paper presents findings from an evaluation of the 'Eat Well Do Well' programme in Kingston-upon-Hull, UK: an innovative scheme providing free, healthy food to all primary school children. Data is presented from an ethnographic study of two case study schools illustrating how notions of 'spatiality' augment our understanding of the ways policy intention is mediated. We consider the potential of primary school meals policy to address health inequalities using the concept of 'spatiality' to examine the interconnections between the aesthetic, temporal, social and spatial elements of school dining environments. We conclude optimistically, suggesting that an engagement by health policy developers with what we call the 'spatial imagination', might be useful in examining and developing factors that ensure the effectiveness of interventions addressing the determinants of ill health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Sociology Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


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