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For generations, children have taken their lunches to school, and Cornell School is no exception.
These lunches contained whatever was in the house. There were no neighborhood grocery stores. The boys and girls usually carried their noon meal in a tin syrup pail or a lard can.
What you ate, as a student, depended greatly on the season of the year, the soil and climate of the area where you lived and your ability to farm or hunt. There were no corner grocery stores and the closest mercantile (which might be a day's or week's ride away) carried only basic staples.
Students should try to pack their lunch in a basket, bucket, or paper bag. Parents should supervise and help their child try to avoid using plastic or other modern materials for packing their lunch.
Drinks will not be available at the schoolhouse so please have students remember to bring their own. We suggest juice, water, or root beer.
Fruits and veggies brought by students were usually grown at home or in the area. It was unusual for students to have citrus fruits like tangerines because they were expensive and not homegrown. Once in awhile, students brought a cooked chicken leg or bacon that was left over from a previous meal at home.
Johnny Cakes were originally a Native American Indian food known as Shawnee Cakes. Sometimes they were known as “Journey cakes” because travelers often took packages of them on long trips.
1 cup white corn meal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups boiling water
Directions: Combine corn meal, salt, and sugar. Stir in water until mixture is smooth but very thick. Drop by tablespoons onto a well-greased griddle and fry over moderate heat for six minutes. Turn and cook the second side for five minutes. This recipe makes 8-10 cakes. You can bring these in lunches to eat cold, use them like bread with butter or jelly or eat them just as they are.
Creating Your Own Lunch Pail
A replica of a lunch pail can be made from a three-pound shortening can or a large coffee can. If coffee cans are used, take out the coffee. The coffee can could be painted silver or covered with butcher paper or a brown grocery bag. Punch holes into the can for the handle using a nail and hammer. A piece of wire or heavy cord can be fastened through the holes for a handle. A scrap of cloth makes a good cover. Constructing these lunch pails makes a great class project prior to visiting the schoolhouse. This way every child is assured of having a lunch pail. Instruct the children to take their pails home the day before their schoolhouse visit and give parents a list of appropriate foods to be packed.
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