Recently, a local FB group had an interesting discussion about cafeteria food and time allotted for student lunches. Most of the comments noted amount of food wasted, what was consumed, and how long students had to eat. Full disclosure: I retired from teaching in June and, while I no longer observe these things first hand, I am fairly certain nothing has changed in the last six months.
Many posters and parents noted that their child(ren) are allowed just 15 minutes to a) arrive at the cafeteria, b) make it through the food line, c) eat and d) clean up for the next group. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the norm in most schools. My fourth graders had that same timeframe for their lunch experience last year and the year before that. Although it didn’t happen too frequently, there were days when the line in the cafeteria was so slow that the kids were just sitting down to eat when I arrived from my own lunch break to pick the students up.
What would be a reasonable time for student lunches? In a newsletter from Harvard School of Medicine titled Why Eating Slowly May Help You Feel Full Faster (link here), outlines why and how, but the short answer? 20 minutes. So those 15 minute allocations for the cafe experience are already 5 minutes short on the eating end.
The whole time-on-task environment is overtaking the educational day. It takes away the teachable moment, the socialization of recess, and now healthy eating habits. Can’t someone come up with an out-of-the-box solution so kids can at least eat the food in front of them?