Lunchlady Laments

Most of us can remember the euphoria of zipping out the school door for…RECESS! Yet, that rush often means uneaten food is tossed in the trash.

Studies have found that when lunch is after recess, elementary school students eat more and waste less–about 30 percent less (recess-before-lunch-powerpoint.ppt). And according to a 1996 survey78 percent of cafeteria managers cited “attention on recess, free time, socializing” as the most likely reason children waste food. Less than 5 percent of elementary schools eat after recess, but those that do find their trash bins lighter and their students more energetic. 

A Highlands Ranch, Colo., school is putting the theory to the test. As you can see in the TV news report on the topic, Bear Canyon Ranch Elementary will switch to post recess lunch in July. 

According to the segment, statistics from a recess-then-lunch school in Montana swayed Bear Canyon Ranch school officials. Montana schools reported a 70 to 80 percent drop in the amount of beverages wasted after switching to recess before lunch.

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One Comment

  1. Posted February 27, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Recently, I came to appreciate how awful the waste is in elementary school lunches, especially federally funded free lunches. Students are given an allotment and can’t refuse items they don’t want to eat and aren’t allowed to bring food home for later, so the food goes into the trash cans.

    During a rainy day last week, I watched the students as they ate in my room. Then I watched as students toss nearly complete lunches into the trash bag. They ate maybe a bit of something, or just the meat patty, not the bread, or maybe just had the juice. I asked why, they didn’t like it. Why didn’t they get something else? This was all they had in terms of choices. Fish patty or chicken patty for the day, and neither was very popular. The salad and fruit trays went straight into the trash bag unopened for many of these students. Why did they pick it up if they didn’t want it? The lunch lady made them.

    On the other hand, a couple of my students were gorging themselves on the food and asked classmates for more. These are the students I know may not get dinner at home.

    I’m not sure why these federal rules are set up, but there must be a better system.

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