This photo has been used for illustrative purpose only. TNS
In school, we used to get half an hour for our snacks. But that time was too short, as at times it would arrive late, impinging on our class periods. Result: we ended up a trifle late for classes after having a quick bite.
It appears that the timespan for snacks or lunches in schools still continues to be short. Even in places like the US.
When Angela Peters’ two young sons return from school, they bound into her Commerce Township home to check the kitchen counter for fruit, plus the pantry and a garage fridge for snacks.
The boys are hungry, or as Peters puts it, hangry — a combination of hungry and angry.
“I would probably be able to eat all of my lunch if there was more time,” said Dante, 7, a second-grader at Keith Elementary School.
Dante and his younger brother, Gabriel, a kindergartner, qualify for free lunch at school. But after they walk to the lunch room, wash their hands and stand in the food line, there’s barely enough time left in the 20-minute lunch period to eat their food. Much of it ends up in the trash.
Peters, 32, wants to get them more time — and she discovered she’s not alone. Two weeks ago, she posted an online petition asking for a longer lunch period, and the petition garnered more than 2,600 signatures.
She ended up networking with parents and others across the country who want the same thing. Turns out, there’s a national discussion about seat time, the actual amount of time a child gets to sit down and eat after receiving the food.
“This issue is even more important since updated nutrition standards began taking effect in 2012,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a research paper on the topic. “Today, students receive significantly larger portions of fruits and vegetables with each meal and more of these produce choices are fresh, which take longer for students to consume.”
School nutrition experts say seat time is important to healthier eating.
“Kids are kids, and typically they go for their favorite item first, usually the center-of-the-plate item,” said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Network, a nationwide group of school food professionals. “They need to have enough time to not only eat that but to be able to try those fruits and vegetables.”
“Schools really have tried to introduce students to items that they might not have encountered at home,” she said. “But you’ve got to encourage kids to give those new foods to try, and they’re certainly not going to eat those items right away if they’re rushed through the lunch period.”
Peters found out that what others have already learned, that changing a school schedule isn’t easy.
“The time allotted for elementary school children to eat their lunch involves the entire school day schedule,” the Walled Lake Consolidated School District said in a statement, noting that the state requires 1,098 hours of instruction each year.
Other factors to be considered include teacher union contracts, bus schedules and time needed for special classes like physical education, art and music.
Still, Peters’ efforts have begun to pay off.
The school superintendent, Kenneth Gutman, at whom her petition is directed, called her this week and said he agreed with many of her concerns. She said he acknowledged the obstacles but agreed to work with her to make a change.
In Peters’ kitchen after school this week, Dante gnawed on an apple before he and his brother decided they’d each like a banana. Peters relented and let them eat, even though she planned to tart dinner in an hour.
She said she’s committed to making a change and will continue to press for more seat time.
“I don’t like to be told no,” she said. “I’m a pretty stubborn person and for our children’s sake … I think with all the support of the parents and everything we will keep pushing.”
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