School Lunch: 1776-1860

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Schools were often too far away from most students’ homes to make it practical for them to return home for lunch. In the middle of the day classes stopped for a lunch break.

In early American schools, students brought their lunches to school in sturdy metal buckets, which might contain bread with jam or meat sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, and dill pickles. Sandwiches were made from a slice of loaf bread, a biscuit, a cold roll, or even wrapped in a cold pancake. Fruits and vegetables were frequent staples. Food was wrapped in cloth or butcher paper and students had a tin cup or used the dipper in the classroom to get a drink of water. Lunchtime offered students an opportunity to eat and talk with friends.