School Lunch: 1776-1860


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.