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Diet in North Lochs (Dewar Report)

Diet in North Lochs (Dewar Report)

The Dewar Commission took evidence of the state of healthcare, and other social matters, around the Highlands and Islands in 1912. Mrs Isabella Burns, wife of the schoolteacher in Fidigary School, Crossbost, gave evidence in Stornoway on 14 October 1912. She answered questions about the local diet and the children's unusual reluctance to take a piece to school:. See also the Commission's general conclusions about diet in the islands; some parents in the district resisted the idea that they sent their children to school on tea and biscuits.

How are the children fed in your district? - Before they come to school in the morning they have tea and a biscuit very often.

They prefer that to easting oat-cake or scones? - Yes, very few children care for oat-cake. It is only when they are compelled to eat it that they do eat it.

Is there any Indian meal used here? - Not that I know of.

What have they for dinner? They go to school and have nothing till they go home? - Yes, and some of them don't get home till between for and five o'clock.
Don't they bring a piece with them? - Very very few. I must say that when we went to Fidigary School none of them brought a piece. If one child brought a piece the others would laugh at the child. We did everything we could to induce them to bring pieces. One year I boiled potatoes in the school and gave them to the children, and when the children went in for the potatoes the others used to call after them, "There go the old age pensioners." It was the year that the old age pensions were given.
Have the School Board not organised a system of cooking for the children in the middle of the day? - No. The people are quite willing to give their children the pieces, but the children won't take them. I don't understand it at all.
Do they eat much fish? - Yes, when they can get it.
Do they get much butter? - They make their own in the summer.
Do they make enough to last them during the winter? - No. They buy butter, and when they buy it they buy the best they can get. They don't go in much for margarine.
They use a lot of tea? - Yes, and they boil it.
I believe in Ireland they use the best tea? - That is not the kind they get here; it is small tea. They get it because it makes a nice black liquid. I know that is the kind of tea that is preferred.
(Lady Tullibardine) What do the children get when they go home? - Those who can go home at one o'clock get porridge and milk. The reason they get it then is that the people don't rise early enough to make porridge in the morning before they go to school, and breakfast in a Lewis house is never until between ten and eleven o'clock.
Is there porridge? - Yes, and the children who go home then get the porridge kept for them till one o'clock. The dinner again is between three and four o'clock.
Do the children come in for the tail-end of the dinner when they go home at night? - Yes, the have potatoes and fish if they have fish.


Title: Diet in North Lochs (Dewar Report)
Record Type: Stories, Reports and Traditions
Type: Testimony Or Evidence
Date: 1912
Record Maintained By: HC
Subject Id: 61883