My kid - the one IN school, as opposed to the other two - goes to a school that has A Balanced School Day, which means that instead of having old-fashioned "lunch" at noon, she has two "nutrition breaks" at 10:35 and 1:00. Instead of having two short recesses and a longer lunch hour, the kids now get two short recesses immediately following the "nutrition breaks." One of the big pluses for this new system is that it saves time - having fewer recesses means that the children waste less time struggling into and out of winter clothes - AND classes can now be longer. Because if there's one thing that's important, it's making children more time-effective!
Bah, I say. And also phhbbppph.
Every parent I know loathes the horrible Balanced Day, and that is because it makes packing actual school lunches next to impossible. We were sent home a cheerful handout describing a week's worth of Healthy Nutrition Break Suggestions, like this:
Nutrition Break 1#
1. A slice of homemade zucchini bread with some low-fat cream cheese.
2. A small container of steamed edamame.
3. A peeled and sectioned organic tangerine.
4. Half a tuna sandwich (although every school in town has a fish ban).
Nutrition Break 2#
1. A low-fat yogurt.
2. A homemade oatmeal cookie.
3. Carrot sticks with homemade hummus dip.
4. Cubed Edam with whole grain crackers.
Now, I AM a stay-at-home mother, and I do like baking. But that is a LOT of baking - and this being a low-income area, I seriously doubt that little kids are coming to school with their lunchboxes full of organic fruit, edamame (and REALLY, soy is such a highly allergic food. 2/5 of my house can't go anywhere NEAR it), and expensive cheeses. ALSO, most little kids have a limited palate of things they like to eat at lunchtime, and it's very hard to stretch that limited palate over 2 school day meals.
There is one kid in my kid's class who gets lunches like that (and it is NOT my kid) and the other kids just get their regular old lunches, which they can then "balance" themselves as best they can (my kid "balances" her lunch by eating all of the dessert-y things as soon as she gets to school), or they get DOUBLE the same old crap (like the kid who gets TWO Lunchables a day. Two!).
There's probably some sound nutritional principles at work, but to me, it feels more of cheeseparing with the kids - let's shave off nearly a half hour of outside time a day and tell parents that it's FOR the kids. And while we're at it, let's turn the simple PB&J, apple and cookie lunch into some impossible piece of performance art (you might want to switch to a part-time job, since this is going to take a while.).
(My mother - who was a teacher - COMPLETELY disagrees with this post. She says that there are lots of benefits to the balanced school day. Benefits I do not feel obligated to list, because this is MY post.)