Is It Still Lunch at 10:45 a.m.? City Schools Serve Meals at Odd Hours

Monday, February 10, 2014 - 04:00 AM

Lunch Served at P.S. 89 in Manhattan (Topher Forhecz)

School lunch times vary widely across New York City, both when they start and how long students have to eat, but a review of Department of Education data shows that as many as 40 percent of the city's public schools start lunch periods early -- that is, by 10:45 in the morning. 

The data review, conducted by WNYC and the Daily Newsrevealed that more than 650 public schools throughout the city are serving lunch before 11 a.m.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said she found the data disturbing.

"We’ve heard horror stories about students eating lunch at unreasonably early hours. Overcrowding is just one of many possible factors, and we’ve committed to addressing it," according a statement from D.O.E. spokesman Devon Puglia. "We are going to work towards improvements – this has been an issue that has gone overlooked for too long.”

Principals and parents said they saw it as just one more symptom of a crowded school system where many schools share building space. Jennifer Harper has helped with programs during lunch and recess at her children's school, PS 150 in Queens. She said she's seen how the schedule affects students.

"Obviously kids in order to learn and for the brain to work they need certain things, like food," Harper said. "That and exercise. You can see the difference when they're not getting enough."

New York University Professor Amy Ellen Schwartz said research on school lunch times is fairly limited but studies have shown how nutrition affects overall student engagement.

"We know this. Kids who are hungry fidget more," said Schwartz, of NYU's Institute for Education and Social Policy. "Kids who are hungry are less likely to pay attention. If they don't eat breakfast in the morning, they're less like to be ready for school. Similarly, if we set up school lunch in a way that leaves them hungry at the end of the day, the reality suggests they're not going to learn as well."

Tell us what you think. Schoolbook and The Daily News want to hear from parents about their children's lunches.





Patricia Willens


Comments [18]

Laurie from Queens

MY school, lunch for first and Kindergarden starts at 10;20. The kindergarteners get an afternoon snack that they are responsible for bringing in themselves and the 1st grade just toughs it out. And 2nd/ 3rd starts at 11:10, Whereas the 4th and 5th grades have 5 straight periods before they get lunch.

Feb. 13 2014 05:14 PM
Miss L. from Bronx, NY

Upon tuning in to this morning's discussion, I thought that the topic was an extended school day. It was mentioned that the children were tired or inattentive due to very early lunches. Again, children are not machine components to be plugged into a schedule when time permits. The same problem of inattentiveness applies to the extended school day and emphasizing academics over behavior in kindergarten and probably the new pre-K (dis)service.From my experience as a teacher who participated in the after school experiment in NYC schools, the extra 45 minutes was spent getting kids from their classrooms to wherever they were to receive the extra services; it was particularly time consuming with little kids who forgot gloves, did not know what their homework was, etc. Then the same process went on at the later dismissal. Maybe there was a half hour of extra help. The kids did not want to do school work; they were tired, cranky and resistant, even with cajoling. One of the reasons I retired was this sort of planning from on high by those who don't work with kids every day.

Feb. 13 2014 11:09 AM
Sherryann Farrell

Schoollunch is good for the students them the energy to keepup with the teacher

Feb. 12 2014 01:02 PM
Ben from New City, NY

Many years ago, when I was in the 6th grade in Bklyn, our lunch period was 10:30AM. It was ridiculous. Most of us were very hungry by 1:30, so we used to sneak eat later during class.

Feb. 12 2014 09:38 AM
Mustang Lunch Lady from Galien, Michigan

We have an early lunch period as well but, this is mostly for our school to work students. In the summer time we have Breakfast/Lunch(Brunch) at 930am then a Lunch/Supper at 4pm. If we had that during the school year I think it would benefit our Jr/Sr High School students, but not our K-5's. Most of my HS's won't eat breakfast anyway so making it a brunchish type meal might be better in some ways. I think if a school is going to have a 930 or 1030am lunch then the school food service authority should probably also serve a snack in the afternoon time to help with the munchies. While we know what times the lunches are served we don't know what times the school day starts and ends for the day. If the school starts early (like 7a) maybe an early lunch is just the ticket. Schools and school children are not cookie cutter items, they do not come off the Ford assembly line, so why would we make them all adhere to the same thing?

Feb. 11 2014 11:00 AM
Trinislim from Brooklyn, NY

Yes, yes and yes overcrowding is certainly an issue since 3 to 5 schools share the building due to co-locations. The children always pay the price for the government to experiment on what works and what doesn't work. And, when the child is caught between periods eating or snacking on something in class they get detention or their parents and called.

Feb. 11 2014 10:59 AM
Andy from Brooklyn

I studied at Brooklyn Technical High School in 1976-1977 and remember having my lunch period begin at 10:30am. If this is such a serious issue why did it take 37+ years to uncover?

Feb. 10 2014 03:17 PM
Bloomberg didn't Care from nyc

It is nice to see schools chancellor Carmen Farina looking into schools that have students eating lunch at 9 am. At least this woman cares. Bloomberg did not give two pieces of crap whether your child ate lunch at noon or at 9 am....Bloomberg was a real piece of crap but now we have people in office that truly care for kids and not some fake piece of crap politician like bllomberg pretending that "childrens first"...yeah right lol

Feb. 10 2014 02:04 PM
Donna from UWS

Re: Picture at the top

Kids eat fried egg rolls for lunch?! That's really healthy.

Feb. 10 2014 11:23 AM
William from Flushing

I went to public school in the 90s and I was one of those many kids that made a habit of not eating breakfast. I was fortunate enough to have it available at home & at school but I opted to rush to school at 6:30a to play catch football in the yard with my friends before classes started, So by 10am I was starving & I had to wait til 12pm to get served lunch. That felt like an eternity always. So i think 10pm isn't bad at all. It also gives teachers time for their kids to settle down. I remember we would always come back full of energy and waste a lot of important instruction time and before you know it, it would be time to pack up and go home.

Feb. 10 2014 10:57 AM
John ADRIAN from Staten Island

It depends on when the school day begins: In the school year 1958-1959 I was in 10th grade, and my high school was on double sessions. Grades 10, 11, & 12 were in school from 0715 to 1225. We lunched in four 20-minute sessions between 1010 and 1130.

Grades 7, 8, & 9 were in home room in the auditorium from 1210-1230. They lunched, again in four 20-minutes sessions from 1430-1550.

If you were in lunch 2 or lunch 4 you had a split 20-minute study hall on either side of lunch.

Grades 7-9 dismissed at 1700.

This was in the Williamsville Central School District in the suburbs of Buffalo.

Feb. 10 2014 10:55 AM

If the school day starts at ~7am and ends at ~3pm wouldn't it make sense to take lunch at ~10am if we 9-to-5ers take out lunch at noon?
Slow news day? :)

Feb. 10 2014 10:17 AM
maria eng from suburban LI

We have the same scheduling problems in suburban LI, but things get worse at HS level. It is not uncommon for our HS students to have to do without a scheduled lunch period altogether in order to enroll in the classes they need/want to take. Our teachers get scheduled lunch hours and prep periods, other school workers get their lunches and breaks, so why can't we value our students' health enough to ensure they are allowed similar benefits during their day?

Feb. 10 2014 09:29 AM
Rae Henry from The Bronx

I once substituted at a Junior HS in the South Bronx. The 8th graders I taught had their lunch at 9:30am. Their 2nd period of the day. During the rest of the day, the children were constantly being reprimanded about eating snacks in the classroom or the hallway. The chancellor attested this to overcrowding and I agree. This school shared the building with at least three other schools.

Feb. 10 2014 09:20 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I presume that mid-way through a 6 or 6 and a half hour school day would be the time for lunch. The earlier school starts, the earlier the lunch hour. Of course, this also depends on class schedules, but presuming students have eaten before they left home, about 4 hours has elapsed until lunch time, which is about right. This is just a common sense issue.

Feb. 10 2014 09:15 AM
L from Manhattan

As a "Baby Boomer" and former NYC school student when schools were on triple sessions my classes started at 7:30 and ended at 2:30 and yes my lunch hour was at 10:45 am - this nothing new - it took 50 years to discover this?

Feb. 10 2014 08:40 AM
Pearl romero from New York

In many schools teachers allow time for a healthy snack during the morning if students have a late lunch or in the afternoon if they they've eater early.

Feb. 10 2014 07:49 AM
Brian from Sunnyside

Hello, Just wanted to say this issue is neither new or unique to NYC.
I grew up in Wilmington DE and went to highschool in the mid 90s.
Because of a rotating schedule all students had a 10:30 am lunch at least once a week.

After my mother first learned of this she called some of my friends moms who had other older kids (and thusly some expirance with the breakfast time lunch schedule). The result?- she shrugged her shoulders and told me to pack an extra granola bar.

As a side note: I never became a Nobel prize winning astro-doctor. ...but I'm doing just fine.

Feb. 10 2014 07:44 AM

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