Healthy eating and physical activity solutions for kids

What to Do When There's Not Enough Time for School Lunch

Many kids complain about not having enough time to eat school lunch. When our organization works tirelessly to help kids “Eat, Move and Enjoy Healthy Balance,” it's hard to read articles like the USA Today article, “Cutting short lunch time in school may lead to obesity.”

While the article brings attention to a very important issue, let's focus less on adding to the list of what “causes” obesity, and more on finding solutions.

I wish I had THE solution to not enough time for school lunch, but the fact is, there isn’t just one.  It depends on the school, and just like people, there are many factors that determine how they allot their time. Some solution starters might look like this:

1. Find the win/win situation for the school and the students. Kids who are well-nourished can and do perform better academically. Share research (and there is plenty) showing the link between healthy eating and academics. You simply can’t eat healthily if you’re only given 5-10 minutes to eat lunch.

2. Focus on the small things that can be changed. To start, recognize that scheduling all grades eating in one cafeteria every day is not simple. What if you look at how many students are in the cafeteria is during each lunch period? is it full every time, or just some of the time and not at all at other times? Can certain grade levels be combined? How do other schools fit in 30 min. or more for lunch time?

3. Consider recess before lunch. What? Yes. Before lunch. It’s successful in many schools across the nation, and the benefits are beyond what you’d expect for less plate waste, smoother lunch periods and better focus in the afternoon.

What ideas can you share?

SNA’s State of School Nutrition Report 2011:

The Relationship Between the Length of the Lunch Period and Nutrient Consumption in the Elementary School Lunch Setting