Remember school lunch? What about play lunch? Have you ever prepared lunch boxes and snacks? Perhaps you still do. Who gets to decide what children eat and how they eat?

We explore the ways families do food differently, for reasons sometimes overlooked by educators and policy makers implementing school food programs.

Several school food programs have emerged in an attempt to curb the obesity problem. Policy makers have identified schools as one place where obesity can be tackled. One approach has called on schools to mobilise children as health advocates within their families. But what happens when schools recruit children to address their family’s health practices? Our research study equipped children with iPads to help us understand what they learned about food at school and their experiences of food at home. We also explored whether they shared school food messages and ideas with their families.

In Schooling Food we bring stories from real family dinner tables and lunchboxes to life. Our exhibition provides a window into the often unseen food lives of families. Join us on our journey from the family dinner table to the schoolyard, past and present.


Our Australian Research Council project ‘Children as health advocates in families: assessing the consequences’ is a multimethod study led by researchers at Monash University with colleagues at the University of Wollongong, and The University of Melbourne. The exhibition showcases our data and findings from the project.



Project Lead: Dr Deana Leahy,
Faculty of Education, Monash University

Project Research Fellow: Dr Sian Supski,
Faculty of Arts, Monash University

Production and Curatorial Consultant:
Ana Tiquia

Design Direction: Warren Taylor,
MADA, Monash University

Design and Graphics: Zach Beltsos-Russo

Photography: Tobias Titz

Special Collections: Dr Anne Holloway,
Special Collections Manager,
Sir Louis Matheson Library


Professor JaneMaree Maher, Faculty of Arts,
Monash University - Chief Investigator

Professor Jo Lindsay, Faculty of Arts,
Monash University - Chief Investigator

Dr Deana Leahy, Faculty of Education,
Monash University - Chief Investigator

Dr Claire Tanner, Research Fellow, University
of Melbourne - Chief Investigator

Professor Jan Wright, Faculty of Education,
University of Wollongong - Chief Investigator

Dr Sian Supski, Faculty of Arts, Research Fellow


Beth Pearson, Research Infrastructure
Librarian, Sir Louis Matheson Library

Sylvia Pilz, Subject Librarian, Faculty of
Education, Sir Louis Matheson Library

Special Collections staff, Sir Louis Matheson Library

Dr Sarah Jansen - Library Faculty Team Leader, Arts, Sir Louis Matheson Library

We especially acknowledge and thank the 50 families who so generously gave of their time and told us of their experiences of school and family food. Without their participation this exhibition would not have been possible.

We also want to thank Dr Ann Fleming, Professor Paul Richardson, Ms Trudi Brunton, Professor Mandi Berry, Ms Sharon Auburn and the Research Translation Initiative in the Faculty of Education for their generous support.

Supported By
Monash Education, Monash Arts, Monash
Library, Monash Department of Design

Website: Hayden Doward

Research project funded by The Australian Research Council Grant DP160100257