Time spent by schoolchildren to eat lunch

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Family and Consumer Sciences

Publication Date



Research has demonstrated a distinct connection between nutrition and a child's ability to learn. The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study demonstrates that students who participated in the National School Lunch Program had better nutrient intakes than students who ate elsewhere, including students who brought lunch from home, students who ate from vending machines, and students who ate off campus, such as at grocery stores and fast food restaurants. In a study examining the attitudes of high school students toward the school lunch program, 82% of students reported that the lunch period was too short and 62% indicated the wait in lunch lines was too long. In a similar study, waiting in line was cited more often than any other factor contributing to student dissatisfaction with school lunch. Sanchez shows that the majority of school children studied had adequate time to eat school lunch but, in some cases, junior and senior high school student spent more than 15 minutes in the serving line. Time spent in the serving line was, in part, because of the large number of students entering the lunch line at the same time and the difficulty of serving them in a timely manner. The purpose of our study was to investigate the amount of time schoolchildren in 2 rural communities—Ellensburg, Wash, and Plattsburgh, NY—had available to eat school lunch, including the amount of time spent waiting for service and the amount of time available to consume their lunches, which we defined as Opportunity Time to Eat.


This article was originally published in Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The article from the publisher can be found here.

Due to copyright restrictions, this article is not available for free download from ScholarWorks @ CWU.


Journal of the American Dietetic Association


Copyright © 2000 American Dietetic Association.