Mom Questions if Students Have Enough Time for Lunch at Schools

Students eating lunch

School lunches have to be nutritious but one Joplin mom contends kids don’t have enough time to eat them.

Lunch workers at Irving elementary say, ” yes, its a lot busier this year, more kids.”

Lunch ladies work at a fast pace to fill trays for Irving elementary students. But one mom says even with their speed her kids don’t have enough time to eat.

Melissa Bebe says, “Absolutely, they say they don’t have time to finish their milk or their apple that was with it or finish their whole sandwich. They complain all the time”

The school with more than six hundred students this year now has two extra lunch periods. All are slated to last twenty minutes.

Teachers intentionally stagger their arrival with some for the next lunch cycle arriving five minutes early.

Principal Nila Vance says, “This year I’ve had no parents complain. I had one parent concerned about her daughter talking and not eating her lunch, just reminding her to eat first before she visits.”

Bebe suspected talking as a problem for her kids, but ate with her daughters to find out first hand.

Bebe says, “My youngest, she’s a first grader, she had time to finish her peanut butter and jelly sandwich but everything else in her meal she didn’t have time to get to.

And my oldest, it was the same way.”

As the teacher on the microphone called for tables of kids to clean up and go, even some who brought lunch and sat first had items unfinished, while some hot lunch eaters finish and others do not. School and food service officials say every student is different.

Food services director for the Joplin School district Rick Kenkel food says, “Some kids can eat in less than 10 minutes, some people eat longer than 10 minutes. So the other issue you may have is that first student in line, first class in line, 20- 25 minutes later could become very disruptive in the lunch room. Do you want them with idle time.”

Bebe believes they could shave a few minutes off the after lunch recess to give kids more time for to finish their meals. On this day that we visited, kids averaged 16 to 18 minutes to eat their food.

Not so says Bebe when she ate at Irving.

She says, “Your time starts as soon as you walk through the door. It’s not when you sit down to eat. So if its taking five, six minutes to get through the line, that’s only allowing you 7 to 8 minutes to sit down and eat.

I don’t think that’s enough time for anybody to finish a meal, let alone a whole tray.”

Kenkel says 20 minutes is the standard time allotted for lunch in school districts across the state.

The National Food Service Management Institute conducted a study through the University of Mississippi which showed consistently students needed and used about 10 minutes to eat lunch.