Why Are Kids Eating School Lunch At 9:45?

Brunch at 9:45: that’s the schedule at the high school where I teach.

But when the bell rings at 9:45 at a high school in Florida’s Seminole County, it’s time for lunch, while a middle school in Queens, New York recently announced that it will be serving students lunch at 9:30 am. I’ve worked at schools that serve lunch at 11 am or even 10:30, but 9:30?

In New Orleans, Laura Fuentes packs her kids’ lunches with waffles covered in strawberries and cream cheese and PB&J pancake sandwiches. Not because her kids love breakfast food, but because their school serves lunch when many of us are still sipping our morning coffee.

Fuentes’ pre-kindergarten son sits down to lunch in New Orleans at 9:45 a.m. and her first-grade daughter eats at 10:20 a.m.

Serving lunch at brunch time is becoming increasingly common across the country. Every year, state departments of education grant waivers to schools so they can serve lunch outside a federally mandated 10 a.m.-2 p.m. window. This year there have been several hundred.

Why are kids eating lunch at 9:30?

Officials say over-crowded schools are the biggest culprit. Some cafeterias are very small and enrollment may be very large so that schools must start serving lunch early and end later to accommodate all the students.

Other schools serve early lunches for nutritional reasons. Early lunches can be the very first thing that some kids eat that day. These are the kids who don’t get enough food at home and may miss school breakfast because of timing or drop off issues.

Then there are the early-starting schools.

From moms.today.com:

“Most children — and adults for that matter — function best when meals or snacks are every three to five hours,” says Sarah Krieger, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “If school begins at 7:05 a.m. and breakfast is served at the school or at home between 6 and 7 a.m., then a lunch or snack at 9:30 or 10 a.m. would be appropriate.”

Luckily, an early morning lunch schedule in fourth grade won’t set your kid up for a lifetime of bad eating habits. Children adjust easily to eating on a new schedule. Krieger says that as long as parents have a plan for the family before and after school, there shouldn’t be any problems around meal times.

“Feed them when they are hungry and they will eat most anything — especially vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and fruits,” says Krieger.

Maybe, but can you imagine eating mozzarella sticks, penne pasta and roasted chicken at 9:30 am? And how do those kids make it through the afternoon when they eat lunch so early? Aren’t they famished by the time school lets out for the day?

What do you think? What time did you eat school lunch?

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Photo Credit: thinkstock


Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Stanley Rampersad
Stanley Balgobin5 years ago

because they wake up hungry.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen5 years ago

Thank you :)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

this sounds crazy but the reasons make sense. we ate at 1106

Cat C.
Cat C5 years ago

Why is it that so many students do not get anything to eat for a REAL breakfast except for the "early lunches" at the school? I am glad they at least get something to eat, but more and more these days, schools are doing such a good job of being substitute parents, many parents just gladly turn the responsibility over to the school districts. How much more can be done to make up for bad parenting? (I would call sending your kids to school without breakfast "abuse".) Why should all the other kids who have a normal eating schedule be made to eat lunch at 9:30 a.m.?

If parents do not feed their children, then CPS or some other agency should be called in. Schools, in their efforts to pick up the slack for bad parents, are on the path to become more like orphanages rather than educational institutions.

Danielle I.
Danielle I5 years ago

When I was at school and when my daughter was at school (and still in schools here in NZ) children have a break around 10 - 10.30am where they have 15 mins, so they can eat then. And then an hour long lunch break usually from 12 - 1pm. Seems to work well, I never remember being hungry in between times. Sadly however it is becoming more and more common as the divide between the rich and poor grows that many families cannot afford to send their children to school having had breakfast or with snacks and lunch. Some schools are providing breakfast for these children, and teachers have always provided lunch for the children who arrive with none.

Ness Watson
Inez w5 years ago

Having taught in high school sin the UK I am aware a lot of kids don't get the chance to eat breakfast. The satellite school we ran provided breakfast between 8am and 9am. Break at 10.15 where kids could make some toast if they chose to (and cleared away afterward) and then lunch, TOGETHER at 1pm.
We also taught manners
expecting kids to eat lunch at 9.30-10am is unrealistic and WILL cause sugar/energy crashes in kids which is not good for concentration and academic levels.

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen5 years ago

I had one of these in High School. I think one in Middle school (grade 5 to 8, that would be like 11 year old to 15 for some)

and I hated it. it was the most nonsensical annoying thing ever. not only did I need to stuff myface at 5:30 am. but then eat at 9? then get hungrey at noon? or 1 pm?

so much stupid.

Charli S.
Charlotte S5 years ago

Have them eat at their desks if the lunchrooms are too small. It's no wonder so many parents are taking their kids OUT of the school system. It needs fixed.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B5 years ago