Do kids have enough time to eat school lunch?

school lunches
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Some parents in Northeast Ohio are complaining about the time their children have to eat lunch during the school day.

“My kids often bring home their lunch unfinished and say they didn’t have time to finish it,” explains Judy Wright, a mom in Lakewood. “I worry they don’t get enough time just to eat, and also have some downtime during the day.”

UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Clinical Dietician, Janet Kramer, says she believes students should ideally have at least 30 minutes of sit down time at the cafeteria table.

“When you have a 20 minute lunch period, you have to allow time for kids to go to the bathroom, wash their hands, stand in line, get their food, sit down and it may end up they only have 10 minutes to eat."

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Kramer says when children have less time they consume fewer calories and nutrients.

“Kids depend on that lunch meal, especially in low-income areas. They’re getting sometimes up to half their days' energy from the food that they get at lunch. “They aren’t just missing out on energy or calories, but they’re also missing out on nutrients. When they don’t get enough nutrition, they can’t function, they can’t think, they can’t pay attention.”

Kramer says if parents are concerned they should band together, find research that supports their point of view and approach administrators to advocate for students.

“Schools need to really value the whole child, including what they eat because that’s so instrumental. It’s so fundamental in their ability to perform and achieve in an academic setting.”