School lunch is a vital part of the health and wellness of our kids. Whether you pack your child’s lunch, or they eat the cafeteria food, you may be surprised to know they don’t have enough time to eat.
Why Having Enough Time to Eat School Lunch Matters
It isn’t a mystery, is it? Having enough time to eat in the middle of a school day seems simple enough. Why does having enough time to eat school lunch matter so much? Because human beings need food to live healthy and productive lives.
Our kids, in more instances than you probably realize, have only a few minutes to get their food, sit down and eat. It’s happening in schools across the country, and it needs to be fixed.
Being taught that eating is something to rush through sets up some really poor ideas about food and nutrition in young minds. If they have HURRY burned into their minds, isn’t it likely that they’ll grow up with the same ideas? Drive-thrus will be the benefactor of what we teach children about eating.
Sixth-Graders in Minneapolis Have Done Their Homework About School Lunch
Two incredible 6th-graders in the Minneapolis public school system actually wrote an oped back in 2012 for the Star Tribune in which they called out their own school system.
Talia Bradley and Antonia Ritter took a deeper look at this school lunch problem. The first thing they wanted the public to know is the amount of time allotted each day is not actually the time they get to sit down and eat.
“…we are supposed to have 15 minutes to eat, which would be bad enough. But realistically we get only 10 to 11 minutes (we have been timing it).”
Sound like your kids?
Here are 8 points they made about school lunch.
The following information comes directly from their oped. (You’re amazing, Talia and Antonia. Thank you!)
1. Having to rush to eat is part of the reason for the obesity epidemic, eating disorders, indigestion and kids not doing well in school.
2. Rushing to eat high-calorie meals at school, or at home, is the cause for the gastroesophageal reflux. This is often called heartburn. Heartburn feels bad.
3. We are growing and have to get energy. In middle school especially, our bodies need energy, because middle-school kids are going through puberty. It is essential that we get enough time.
4. Younger kids, meanwhile, tend to eat much more slowly. That means they eat less in the time allotted and behave poorly for the rest of the day.
5. Research shows that eating fast causes people to consume more calories and enjoy the meal less.
6. There are also problems with kids being underweight. Those children just use lunch to talk, instead of having time to eat and talk.
7. Lunch is an important social time. Teachers always tell us to socialize at lunch and recess, not in the classroom. But we cannot do that if we are scarfing down our lunches in 11 minutes.
8. And at recess, nobody can socialize or run around if they are hungry or we feel sick. Lots of kids stay in classrooms during lunch so they have time to actually eat and socialize.
How do you know if your kids have enough time to eat lunch?
The first step is to have a conversation with them. Ask them about their experience of eating at school.
Are they always starving after school each day?
Have you noticed their test scores drop when they take them after lunch?
Are they grumpy when they come home? Do they make a mad dash for the kitchen?
You should also be able to go to school and have lunch with them. See what you think. Take in the whole experience and jot down some notes to share with the school board for your district.
We owe it to our kids to give them every leg up they can get with their education and their health. Let’s do what parents do and work to fix this problem.