Schools serving lunch earlier than usual

6:23 PM, Oct 27, 2011   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Those in the workforce don't think much about what time they grab lunch; they'll feed themselves when they're hungry. Children in school don't have that luxury and now across the country, a trend is developing to have lunch earlier and earlier.

In Winter Park, Florida kids are eating lunch at 9 or 9:30 a.m., a time many of us consider having breakfast. "Our students start getting on a bus around 5:30 to about 6:40 so it's 2 ½ hours/almost 3 hours before some of them eat," Ninth Grade Principal Dave Stanley told NBC News.

You won't see any real early lunches in Minnesota. In order to serve outside of the nationally accepted window of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. you need a special waiver. The Minnesota Department of Education hasn't received such a request.

We put the question out on Facebook and several posts questioned if 10 a.m. was too early for lunch. We asked the U of M Extension's Director Health and Nutrition Programs about it.

"If you have lunch too early then you are also spending your afternoon without any food as well. There are studies that say yes, if you go an extended amount of time without eating you become less alert," Houa Vue-Her PhD, RD said.

But Vue-Her says school districts have a hard time getting all the lunches in during that window. "One might be eating a little bit ahead of time where the other might be eating a little too late, but there has to be a balance there. You have to feed everyone," she explained.

The Nutrition expert says kids shouldn't go more than 4 hours without eating something. She recommends putting a snack in your kids backpack; some carbs or low fat protein. That will help re-energize them. This is especially important if your child is involved in after-school activities.

Perhaps the earlier lunches are a response to another troubling trend. "I think the piece that they're missing is when breakfast is in play as well. So there are a lot of children that miss breakfast altogether so the encouragement to eat earlier works well for those," Dr. Vue-Her said.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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