Lunch Time in American Schools is F*cked Up

This school period needs top priority.

Nicole Kenney


Photo by CDC on Unsplash

What normally is many kids’ favorite part of the school day, was the part of the day I dreaded the most.


I bought a school lunch in elementary school. Therefore, half of the block was spent waiting in line with 100 other kids, just to get a soggy hot dog and a carton of milk (that was typically expired half the time).

By the time you sat down and took two bites of your mediocre meal, the teachers were already calling tables to throw their trays out. And we all spent the rest of the day fighting against our empty stomachs to focus on the curriculum. And the worst part? this seems to be the norm in America.

While I’ve never worked in a school, I have been a summer camp counselor. And I noticed the improvement in children’s behavior, energy, and demeanor after having lunch. That time to eat and recharge is a necessity, and yet it seems to be the least of the education system's concerns.

So, let’s get into it. Why are American school lunches f*cked up?

The Short Amount of Time

The School Nutrition Association recommends elementary school students take at least a 25-minute period for lunch, while 30 minutes for middle and high school-aged students. While this seems to be the average for many schools across, my school’s lunchtime was shorter.

Across the entirety of my primary education career, lunchtime was 20 minutes. And yes, that included traveling to the cafeteria, waiting in line, and cleaning up after.

With all of that factored in, you had around 8–10 minutes to eat lunch (maybe a few extra minutes if your classroom was close to the cafeteria and you could get a good spot in line). This leads students to force themselves to scarf down their lunch, which can lead to indigestion, bloating, and gas.

On the other hand, other schools across the world take a proper amount of time for students to relax and enjoy their lunch at a normal rate.

The UK takes a 45 to 60-minute lunch break. Brazil, China, and Japan give enough time for kids to go home for lunch. France gives kids as long as a…



Nicole Kenney

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