In the past I never gave it much thought – school lunch times. I remember sitting in the cafeteria in school and talking and joking with my friends , eating whatever yummy meal my Mom came up with (You know if you heat up pizza hot enough in the a.m. and wrap it in foil, it’s still warm by the time lunch time rolls around??!) I never worried about not having enough time to eat, and I definitely never worried about having enough time to play.
My concerns over the past year or so regarding my kid’s at school though, are increasing. We moved back to the place that I grew up; my kid’s are growing up in the neighborhood I did, going to the same school, some of the same teacher’s. But most definitely not the laxed lunch and recess time that I remember. Both of my daughter’s bought lunches at school last year – my husband had lost his job and we were taking advantage of the reduced lunches – and everyday my kid’s came home starving as well as complaining that the milk was warm, and the food was disgusting. I did what I could to improvise suggesting getting a cup for water to drink, and eating just the veggies/fruit and the pre-made PB&J’s. But this didn’t help that by the time they went through the lunch line and sat down they had less then 10 minutes to eat!!
Sometimes my girl’s can be drama queens – but as I started talking to other parents I’m hearing the same things..and worse!
Then my son started school – my first child to attend all day Kindergarten. I was nervous, after all, he is my baby. Being in school all day can be tiring on anyone let alone a little guy who just turned 5. I met his teacher and felt a lot better about him being gone all day, but the scary thing was when he would bring home his lunch box after school – and nothing would be opened out of it. His drink was still fully intact with the straw on back, his sandwich or Lunchable not opened or touched, or even his grapes (which are his favorite).
Though I haven’t been able to get an answer from anyone on the exact amount of time allotted for lunch/recess (and I’m told not all classes get a recess – which is another subject, that I will get into more on another day), I am being told once a classroom is scheduled for lunch that they have 20 minutes from there to go through line, eat, clean up, and get out the door – which if a teacher is running behind, a student misbehaves, or God forbid it takes 10 minutes to get through the lunch line, there’s a problem.
Studies suggest that hunger is directly related to the ability to learn – and we wonder why our schools are getting low marks and our students lower grades?
Did you know that kid’s living in France get 2 hours for lunch/recess? A half hour to eat, and an hour to an hour and a half to play outside – that is brilliant!
Not to mention their menu’s chucked full of healthy foods to serve the kids instead of some unrecognizable mush!
I am not one to talk, and do nothing. A group of parent’s from our school are looking into what we can do to help – here are some of my suggestions:
- Increase the eating/lunch time to 30-35 minutes. This gives the children enough time to ‘decompress’ and socialize while eating
- Make everyone sit in the lunch room for the full allotted time, so that no one can ‘rush’ out to the playground for recess (i.e., not eating)
- Lunch monitors who check on each table to make sure they are able to open their water bottles, lunches, etc.
- Extend recess time – I guarantee we as parent’s get more of a ‘break’ during work then our kids do!
- Allow water bottles during class time – our brain is made up of over 75% water. Re-hydrating during the day is extremely important
There are a lot of great teachers, staff and volunteers at our local schools. We also have a great community that bans together to make sure that agendas aren’t our only concern, or top on the priority list – but our children are. YOU can make a difference!
There are ways you can help get your school back on track such as joining the PTO, volunteering, and attending school board meetings. Having your voice heard along with other concerned parents can make the changes that your school needs!