Friday, October 1, 2010

Junk Lunch

I've had this post sitting in my drafts file since last spring. I hadn't worked on it much, but I'd thought about it often, and I had a lot to say. I was planning to make some pointed observations about school lunches. I also hoped to raise a few seldom-asked questions about the importance schools place—or do not place—on children's health and nutrition. More specifically, I wanted to write about: why lunch periods in elementary schools have been reduced in length from an hour and a half, when I was a kid, to one hour or less today; how and why kids are rushed out of unappealing lunch rooms (overseen by authoritarian "Lunch Ladies") after 10-15 minutes; why the one lunch program that is a given in almost all Toronto District School Board schools—the Pizza Lunch fundraiser—is a junk lunch. But then I was alerted to this report from CBS on school lunches in France, and I realized that not only does it tie into my previous post on the French Paradox, but that it speaks for itself, and for me. There's nothing more to say. (Thanks to Corey Mintz for the link.)


  1. I've been meaning to post about that same topic. At our school, they've cut lunch back about as much as humanly possible, so now they're starting in on recess . . .

  2. Chris,

    I won't let recess go without a fight! So far restricting recess at the elementary level seems to be mostly an American (as opposed to Canadian) phenomenon, but we Canucks do have a tendency to follow your lead, so one must remain vigilant... By the way, how much recess do your kids get? At my daughters' school, there are two fifteen-minute recess periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Then there is the lunch recess on top of that but, believe it or not, my daughters still come home for lunch most days. This is why I wish the lunch period were an hour and a half like it was when I was a kid--the longer lunch allowed me to walk home, have a relaxing, leisurely meal, and walk back to school.

  3. Wow, northTOmom, going home for lunch is a legendary practice for us. My father did it, but my mother didn't, I didn't, my siblings didn't, and my kids never have either. The subject doesn't even come up as a possibility.

    At the public middle school that my daughter would have attended, the kids get a 1/2 hour break, which is both lunch and recess. At her private school she has an hour break.

  4. northTOmom, can I re-post this to the Coalition for KFS?

  5. FedUpMom,

    The fact that going home for lunch is a legendary practice for you probably just means that I'm a lot older than you :-). But seriously, almost everyone I know who is my age or even ten years younger, went home for lunch. It was a very common practice back then (here in Toronto at least), but not so much any more. Every school in our board gives elementary (and sometimes middle kids) the option of going home, but since in most families both parents work, the reality is most kids stay for lunch. Our area is a bit of a 1950s throwback, though, with a lot of stay-at-home moms and dads or full-time nannies. So at my kids' school, well over half of the kids go home for lunch.

    I think the 1/2 hour break your public middle school gives kids is outrageous, by the way. How did that situation come about?

    (And yes, you can re-post this over at your blog.)