Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

School Lunch on the Brain


One of the many things I’m less than thrilled with about the public school so far is lunch time.  I’m sad to say that not much has changed since I was in school.  My parents always talked about how quickly my sisters and I would eat.  We were trained from our very first day of school to eat as fast as possible.  Some habits are hard to break and this is one legacy from my school days that I could do without.

Not surprisingly, it’s not a skill I want my son to learn.

I’m trying to reserve judgement, but when the teacher says “Eating on a time limit is something that Mr. J is probably not used to,” I’m feeling a little less than generous.  Yes, when you go out in the world and get a job in an office (or wherever) you do have a specific timeframe within which you need to eat, but I still had time to chat with my coworkers and eat more than a sandwich.  I’m glad that we talked about him eating his sandwich first last night as that’s the most nutrient (energy) dense thing in his lunchbox.  So, I guess that’s something.

Did I mention that his teacher also gave him extra time in the classroom to eat?

They have an hour break in their day.  A 30 minute recess followed by a 30 minute lunch period.  I was thinking that didn’t sound so bad, but I suspect travel time (lining up, putting playground equipment away, unpacking, re-packing your lunch) is included which probably decreases the actual time kids spend eating.  It’s more than some kids get (10 minutes according to one parent), but it pales in comparison to what kids get in other countries.

That last part?  How we compare to other countries…I sometimes feel like a broken record.  No uber-patriots, not everything that happens in the United States is the best in the world.  Often, like in the case of school lunches and student achievement, we’re not even in the running for the top spot.

They were bragging in our parent orientation meetings about how they gained 36 instructional hours by cutting down to one recess as if this was a good thing.  I wasn’t impressed then and I’m even less impressed now.  There are lessons we’re teaching our children about life by the way we order their school day and the amount of time (or lack there of) allocated for things imparts powerful lessons that will shape the way they live life.  I’m sure the answer is that it’s up to parents to lobby for changes, but to be honest, with the state of things as they are today, it seems like a waste of time.

On a practical note I’m thinking about packing my kid a liquid lunch (only half-kidding here).  At least then maybe he’d come home slightly less likely to eat everything in sight (not nailed down).

6 thoughts on “School Lunch on the Brain

  1. lol, I feel your pain…today was apparently the first day that they had recess. We’ve had three “red days” in a row… I’m not sure how seriously I should take this or not, because I sort of think its BS.

    • Yeah….I don’t even….

      There really are no words here and I feel all spluttery thinking of it. The kid can only manage a sandwich and he’s hoovering food when he gets home. He doesn’t even get enough time to eat the coveted lime (lemon-lime he would correct) jello he was so looking forward to. I don’t think hot lunch would save him any time because you have to stand in line for that.

      Apparently the message I’m supposed to give him is, swallow, don’t chew. I’m thinking of telling him to just toss the empty containers in his lunch bag without putting the lids back on. Maybe if I got him a bigger one so there’s more room. I’ve seen some neat bento box lunches out there, but now I look at them wondering how long it would take my kid to eat them and there’s just no way he’d finish what’s pictured.

      Maybe I should hold time trials at home on the weekends to try and help him eat faster. Rush through your lunch quicker dear because lunch is something to power through just as fast as you can. Perhaps they should consider feed sacks so the kids can’t see each other in the lunchroom?

      As for recess…they’re kids for fucks sake, I though they were supposed to play!

      It’s only the second day, but I’m not exactly feeling as confident in this decision. He didn’t get to see the husband at all today and won’t get to tomorrow either.

      And don’t even get me started on the tears that came out while I was making dinner. Poor kid.

      • Yup, its an adjustment. I keep thinking though that the witchlet needs to face some challenges and uncomfortable situations…she’s pretty much gotten away with being cute, clever and social for the past 5 years. I dunno…

        You know, what helps us with the lunch thing, is that I let her have a snack before school, and I make sure I have one waiting in the car when I pick her up. Its ridiculous though–even in boot camp you had 10 min to shovel food in your face!

        • I’m kind of “meh” about the whole thing. I’m not wowed by school or overly impressed. Mostly I guess I’ve come away with the impression that I wasn’t all that far off from what I figured it was like and we weren’t behind the public schools by any stretch of the imagination. If anything, I could have probably cut half of what we did out and he would have been on track with his public schooled peers.

          I took your advice on the snack and I made sure he left the house with a big breakfast. I tried to pack as many calories in his sandwich as possible because that’s really the only thing he has time to eat (although he did get to his jello today). In the car I had a Cliff bar and a piece of string cheese waiting and he ate a big dinner. I guess as long as he isn’t going hungry I’ll consider it a success.

  2. This is really depressing to think a child can’t actually get his lunch finished in the time allotted. Somebody should tell the school district about the Slow Food movement (ha). Cutting recess time also cuts the time teachers have to eat their own lunch, hit the bathroom and do a bit of planning and prep since most schools have pretty much eliminated any planning time for teachers. So looks like no one is getting the kind of school they want: kids, parents, teachers. Only politicians.

    • It is depressing and you are right about the impact on teachers. In some daycare centers in the state the teachers never get a break from the children. The only opportunity they get to eat is if they eat while the kids in their classroom are eating (and we’re talking about a daycare center so we’re talking small children). It seems to me our kids deserve better than that.

      I suspect things will only get worse here. The teachers are currently under contract (take care of before Act 10), but that’s up this summer and well, thanks to Scott Walker, I suspect the crazies on the school board will get their way. *sigh*