Powerless Lunches

I wake up at 4:30 every school morning to fix my children the freshest lunch possible. Humming, I spread the mustard and lovingly place the organic cheddar and sliced turkey breast on whole wheat bread, and I carefully slip each sandwich masterpiece into folded plastic wrap. I select their fruit, based on heightened ripeness by day and variety—tri-color grapes will be perfect today, and tomorrow? The Anjou pears. I build these lunches in the hope they’ll help power my kids through the rest of the school day.

Tell me how you would feel to greet your kids after school and unload their lunch boxes, only to find half-eaten, soggy sandwiches, mashed against brown bananas—nothing finished, most items untouched and ruined! “Why didn’t you guys eat?”

“We didn’t have enough time!”

I have glorious memories of walking home during the lunch period, playing while my mom made my lunch, and walking back to school with time to spare. How could it be that now there’s not even enough time to eat?

I decided to get to the bottom of this. I called the school, and I was told that the kids get 20 minutes to eat. It’s the same throughout the Clark County School District. Two days later, the principal called, because she was told I made a complaint about the lunch schedules. That’s true only if a request for information is now a “complaint.” But maybe I should have complained, because the next thing I learned from the principal was that in addition to their micro-lunch break, the kids also get a micro-recess: 15 minutes. The principal explained they don’t have time for recess: They keep adding things to the curriculum, and it’s just too difficult to fit everything in.

I now let my kids play more after school and on weekends. I give them smaller lunches and a larger, wholesome breakfast. So, if your children seem tired and hungry, it’s because they are. Make time for them to be kids—someone has to.

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