Dear Future President,
Schools need to have longer lunches for students. According to an article by National Public Radio (NPR), “Most of the kids in the U.S. don't get much time to eat lunch. And by the time those kids wait in line and settle down to eat, many of them feel rushed.
And a recent study suggests that this time crunch may be undermining good nutrition at school.” It is crucial that we take a look at our school systems and determine how we can help students get more time to receive a proper meal, and eat it in ample time.
Researchers may have found the answer to getting students to eat their veggies, increase their lunches to at least 25 minutes. According to realsimple.com, “Researchers studied 1,001 students from five different elementaries and middle schools from grades 2-8. The students with fewer than 20 minutes ate 13 percent less of their entrees, 10 percent less milk, and 12 percent less veggies compared to students with at least 25 minutes to eat.” In addition to this, "Kids who had less than 20 minutes to eat were consuming, across the board, less of everything” according to a report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They also found more food waste among kids who had less time to eat. This to me, is alarming because students who live in poor or impoverished neighborhood typically rely on their school lunches to provide them with nutrition, and for some, this may be the only meal they receive for the day.
The cause of this problem would be having too short of lunches. Not only that, some kids absolutely need school lunch because sometimes it is the only time they eat in the day. With everyone wanting to eat, the lunch lines often get very long and take time to get through. This is a big issue because students need energy and a full stomach to do their best and focus in the classroom.
This affects all the students eating a lunch in school. According to Articles.extension.org, “Several studies show that nutritional status can directly affect mental capacity among school-aged children. For example, iron deficiency, even in early stages, can decrease dopamine transmission, thus negatively impacting cognition. Deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals, specifically thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine, and zinc, are shown to inhibit cognitive abilities and mental concentration. Additionally, amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation can improve perception, intuition, and reasoning. There are also a number of studies showing that improvements in nutrient intake can influence the cognitive ability and intelligence levels of school-aged children.” This to me is is pretty alarming knowing the fact that if you don’t eat a good meal, you will be less happy. You will also have less focus in the classroom which shows how longer lunches can give students time to eat a good meal and be more prepared to learn.
It seems like a no brainer. That teachers, parents and students alike would all benefit from a longer lunch time. Students could have time to eat, socialize and overall earn a break from the monotony of their day to day, and teachers would have time to make copies, grade or meet with students. However some feel as though this would not be the case. States across the nation are hard wired into making classrooms focused on the standards that will be tested on state assessments. With this being said, there is pressure for teachers to teach from bell to bell on the subject material that will ultimately decide their fate in the upcoming year, as well as their students. According to Livestrong.com, “Extending the school lunch time, without extending the school day, means that academics will take a hit. Students will spend more time in the cafeteria and less time in the classroom. While this might be beneficial for their social skills, it will not help them in their academics. Teachers will have to fit their current lesson plans into shorter classes, which can be challenging and make covering material difficult.”
There are a few ways to increase kids eating time instead of standing in a line time. The first option would to be increase lunch as a whole. By increasing the lunch time, this gives kids more time to get through the lunch lines and find a seat to eat your meal. Another way to increase the time to actually eat would be to increase the amounts of lunch lines. Lunch lines can get very long with all the kids trying to get there food. So students would benefit with more lunch lines to help them get their lunches and have more time eating. The last way would be to get automated cashiers to help students get through the lunch lines quicker. With automated cashiers, students can altogether get through the lunch line quicker and pay for their food to keep the lines moving.
In conclusion, schools across the United States should focus more of their time and planning on school lunches and giving students enough time to eat. It is becoming more and more prevalent that schools are forcing their students to eat in such a small amount of time, leading to a lack of proper nutrition. I plead with you to take a stand on this, and continue in Michelle Obama’s footsteps, of realizing and pushing for better food choices and time for students.
Gage Worden, Michigan