Hamden Public Schools Board of Education
United States of America

Hamden elementary school students have 45 minutes for lunch and recess – effectively a 20-minute lunch period. A 2015 University of Washington study of schools with 20-minute lunch periods found that, on average, students had less than 13 minutes of seated time to eat lunch.

Many research studies have shown that insufficient lunch time hurts students’ nutritional status and attendance, academic achievement, conduct, and overall school performance. Research specifically on school lunch times shows that students with insufficient lunch time get less of the healthy food they need to fuel learning, and that low-income students – who wait in line for lunch and who tend to rely more on school meals for nutrition – are disproportionately impacted.

For example, a 2011 Harvard study of six elementary and middle schools in which lunch period lengths varied from 20 to 30 minutes found that “a substantial number of students had insufficient time to eat, which was associated with significantly decreased entrée, milk, and vegetable consumption compared with students who had more time to eat. School policies that encourage lunches with at least 25 minutes of seated time might reduce food waste and improve dietary intake.” The University of Washington study cited above found that students in schools with higher numbers of students receiving free/reduced price lunch had even less time to eat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture “encourages schools to provide sufficient lunch periods that are long enough to give all students adequate time to be served and to eat their lunches.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that students be given enough time to eat their school lunch because they are more likely to enjoy their food and eat healthier options when they are not rushed.

The research and health experts echo what we have heard from many Hamden parents – that Hamden Public Schools students do not have enough time to eat their lunch; that children come home from school with much of their food untouched; that lunch time is stressful for their children as they rush to eat as much food as they can, and that reducing instructional time during the school day (which is longer than in most Connecticut districts) to give students more time for lunch would result in happier, healthier, better-performing children.

If you are one of these parents (or a concerned Hamden resident), please sign our petition and share it with other Hamden parents and taxpayers.

We, the undersigned Hamden Public Schools parents and concerned Hamden residents, believe in the following principles:

• We believe that lunch time should be a time for children to eat, but that it should also be a time to relax, socialize, and take a break from the school day.
• We believe that increasing lunch time will improve our children’s conduct and academic performance – even if instructional time is reduced.
• We believe that school district policies should reflect what is best for students’ health, overall school performance, and well-being.

We therefore call on the Hamden Board of Education to increase the amount of time Hamden Public Schools students have to eat lunch.

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The Give Hamden students enough time to eat lunch petition to Hamden Public Schools Board of Education was written by Michael Rossini-Nogelo and is in the category Education at GoPetition.