I grew up with short school lunchtime. In high school the first lunch period even started the minute the bell rang dismissing the class before it. For the first 10 minutes of passing, you were considered to be in lunch, while 3,000 other students roamed the building on their way to class, hung out at lockers and the like. After that 10 minutes, you had 20 more minutes to run through the lunch line, shove a few bites of food in your mouth, bus your tray and make your way to class. Not much time to sit and savor the food. But could this short lunch American standard be making our kids fat? New studies are saying yes.
With schools changing what they are serving, are we really going to be doing any good if the kids don’t have time to eat the healthier food? USA Today reported, “U.S. research shows that when people eat quickly, they consume more calories, enjoy the meal less and feel hungrier an hour later.”
They touch on points like how it takes longer to chew a whole, fresh apple than it does to slurp down applesauce, which I have to agree with. If we change the menu to include whole apples, but kids don’t have time to eat them, then are we really changing anything?
With my slowest eaters in school, I noticed several things coming home in their lunch boxes last year, and I adjusted serving sizes to make sure they were getting the food in their bodies that I thought was most important. If you’re a parent who is utilizing free and reduced lunches or just using the school lunch system as it was intended, you don’t have the luxury of adjusting. Your child could be bypassing the fresh fruit and vegetables simply out of time constraints, instead filling up on chicken nuggets or “baked cheese sticks,” as they are so lovingly called.
School lunch and childhood obesity: what can moms do?