Feeding others' children : a comparative ethnography of school food service employees and how they make meaning
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Utilizing 18 months of participant observation, 25 in-depth interviews and numerous textual sources, this research is an ethnography at an elementary, middle, and high school looking at how school food service employees (i.e. lunch ladies) make meaning out of this low-status, low-paying occupation in the context of changes to federal policies on school nutrition. Overall, I argue that lunch ladies use care work as resources in mundane, yet unique, ways even as their work is shaped and constrained by the financial and regulatory structure changes of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. The goal is to show how food, femininity and labor are interrelated to produce inequalities, as well as, create opportunities for equality. Consequently, this project possesses social, cultural, and policy implications by analyzing an invisible group that provides service to every school in the United States and who influence student's school food choices.