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Parents raise concerns over short lunch periods for students

Most lunch periods are about 20 minutes
Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 12, 2019

BELLEVUE, Neb. — The school year is in full swing, and kids are settling into their routines. But parents of one school district are raising concerns about the length of the lunch period. They say their children aren't getting enough time to get through the lunch line and eat their meal.

"What bothers me is that I will see some of them sit down and they don't have very much time whatsoever to eat, and that's not a joke," concerned Betz Elementary parent, Shan-tel Nigh said.

The elementary school students at Belleveu Public Schools have about 20 minutes to wait in line, get their food and eat.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that students get 20 minutes to eat lunch a day. That's 20 minutes of sitting down and eating, not 20 minutes for a lunch period total.

Some parents say that if their child is in the back of the line, sometimes they'll have just minutes to finish their meals. Their concern is that the lunch lines are too long.

"They got to punch in their numbers so it makes it slower. And if the lunch lady forgot it than the lunch lady has to look it up," concerned Betz Elementary parent, Brenda Croes said.

Gretna Public Schools have a unique system to get their students through the lines as fast as possible.

"So it take s a picture of your pointer finger, a couple little polka dots on your finger in a few places, and when they put their finger back on to the bio metric scanner, it could identify those pin spots," food and nutrition services director for Gretna Public Schools Sharon Schaefer said.

But even then, is under a half hour enough time for kids to eat and not rush?

"I'm really grateful that we have that much time at Gretna Public Schools, however my own children take about an hour to eat," Schaefer added.

Shan-tel Nigh sometimes brings her son lunch to school. Just so he can have something warm to eat and have enough time to eat.

"I'm glad that I'm bringing him food because he doesn't have to stand in that line right now," she said.

In a statement, Bellevue Public School said,

"Bellevue Public Schools understands the importance of providing adequate time for students to eat lunch. We want to work with all of our families and have conversations about concerns such as these. While we have not heard from any parents, guardians, or families about this specific concern we are more than willing to have discussions with them. BPS has a great communication too, Let's Talk, located right on the home page of our website where parents, staff, students, and our community can reach out to us with questions, concerns, or even compliments."

But this looks to be a national issue.

"It's all over the United States, this is not something that's just here," Nigh said.

When kids don't have enough time to eat, their food goes to waste.

"That's actually across the nation, we're seeing the number one consequence is food that the kids would have eaten, goes in the trash," Schaefer said.

Plus, having a nutritious lunch for kids is vital for proper development.

"It's extremelly important for the kids to have enough time to eat, consume those healthy foods, let their hair down for a moment," Schaefer said.