In response to recent concerns about the length of time that students at HMK have to eat their lunch, Principal Taryn Kay has spent the last few weeks meeting with Deb Rappe, the Child Nutrition Director, to try and pinpoint some solutions to help alleviate the issue.
According to Principal Kay, the school will start by ensuring that lunchtime policies that were already in place will be more strictly adhered to. “Sometimes as you get later in the year, things like this gets pushed to the side,” she said.
One of those policies involves a rotation for each grade that specifies which class is first in line. “If you don’t do a rotation, you have some classes that are always first. And some classes that are always last,” she said.
In this case, there is a set order for the teachers to bring their classes to the lunchroom. They follow that order for two months. Then the rotation changes. There are a total of five rotations, which ensures that each class is at the front of the line at some point in the school year. However, it isn’t always easy to enforce. Teachers can get held up by students misbehaving in line or they can get caught up in a lesson and lose track of time.
Principal Kay said that she and Deb Rappe have also been collecting data in the lunchroom. “The first student through the line gets an average of seventeen minutes to eat,” she said. “The last student through gets about nine.”
That means that the cafeteria workers are moving almost 125 students through the lunch line in around ten minutes. “Our goal is to get that last student ten minutes,” Principal Kay said. “So we’re trying to figure out what we can do to change that.”
However, Principal Kay said that they don’t make anyone dump their trays after the twenty-minute lunch period is up. “There is a ten-minute cushion before the next class comes in,” she said.
During that ten minutes, any students who need extra time to eat can sit at the back table to finish their meal. “Students who genuinely need more time will stay and finish eating,” she said.
For the younger grades, Principal Kay said they also enforce five minutes of quiet eating time at the end of each lunch period. That time is designed to encourage the students to concentrate on eating rather than talking.
Principal Kay said that none of these policies are new. However, the administration will be putting forth extra effort to make sure they’re working the way they need to be. They will also continue to monitor the situation and keep an eye on any other ways that lunchtime can be improved.