Plenty of Time...to Eat?
Work with your school leaders to find ways to lengthen lunch periods, adjust the schedule and rethink the cafeteria culture so students can relax, socialize and have adequate time — at an appropriate time — to eat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich lunch.
How Does It Work?
This strategy can be used as part of your larger initiatives, or it can be a separate activity done on its own.
The following steps are suggestions for how to complete the Play — but they can be done in any order or combination and can be altered to fit your needs. If you find ways to adapt this Play to fit your school, share it with us through the Tips section!
Form a team of students, teachers and school leaders to consider making lunch period changes. With your team, think about concerns that can interfere with a healthy lunch, such as lack of time and limited social time.
Then brainstorm ways these issues might be resolved:
- Can lunch periods be lengthened?
- Can the tables be arranged differently to allow students to socialize while enjoying a healthy lunch?
- What can be done to help students relax and enjoy lunch in a limited time?
- How can the school schedule be changed to allow for more lunch time?
- Can students move more quickly through lunch lines to allow more time for eating?
- Think of other ideas.
Make Your Case
Consider surveying the student body about changes they’d like to see during lunch periods. In your survey, focus specifically on how changes to lunch periods can help students meet their healthy eating goals.
Present your brainstorm list and your survey results to school leaders.
Work with school leaders to recommend and implement any changes that are immediately possible. Then work to secure long-term changes, such as adjusting the school’s lunch schedule and lunch period length.
For elementary schools, consider scheduling recess before lunch.
Spread the Word
Be sure to let your student body know about any changes that are made by making morning announcements or getting the word out through the school newsletter or flyers.
Get Others Involved
Everyone can help:
- Form a team
- Suggest possible changes to lunch periods
- Survey students
- Work with school administrators to recommend and implement changes
- Announce changes to the student body
Did You Know?
Researchers recommend that school lunch times be at least 25 minutes long and scheduled after any recess option. Students are more likely to finish their healthy meals and also more likely to be settled and ready to learn for the afternoon. (See Food: Waste Less Play for research information)