What we can learn from the (often gruesome) history of food in hospitals and prisons

Margaret Charleroy

Last year, over an institutional lunch at the University of Warwick, I had a fascinating conversation comparing diet and nutrition in prisons and hospitals over time with Jenny Crane, from a project about the Cultural History of the NHS. We became particularly interested in exploring the themes of control and choice in institutional diet, moral economy and entitlement, and discussion of what demarcated ‘institutional’ diet specifically from, for example, state-provided food in the community.

We organised a one-day event in April 2017 to further analyse these themes, which brought together policy-makers, practitioners, and historians working in this field. The event was also endorsed by Prue Leith, a campaigner, chef, and the new judge in the Great British Bake Off!  Our first output from this event has been an article in The Conversation entitled ‘What we can learn from the (often gruesome) history of food in hospitals and prisons’.

Image credit: A British prison, 1944. Wikimedia Commons

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