Eating right is essential for learning. A hungry kid is at a disadvantage no matter what time of day hunger strikes. Even when parents provide nutritious lunches from home or through the school lunch program, two situations can cause a child to feel hungry at school.
Quantity of food offered: To the best of my knowledge, elementary school lunch portion sizes are the same, no matter the age of the child. When your child is young, the amount of food in school lunch is adequate. As your child gets older, make sure your child isn’t left feeling hungry after lunch. The problem could be the quantity of food that is offered; fifth and sixth grade boys often need more food.
Time scheduled for lunch: Some children simply don’t have time to eat all of their lunch, whether it’s due to a tight schedule or too much socializing at the lunch table. Lunch schedules can cause difficulties: lunch time might be too early for your child to feel hungry enough to eat a full lunch, leading to hunger pangs later in the day. Late lunch times can be difficult for light eaters: perhaps a nutritious snack would carry your child through until the scheduled lunch time.
If your child feels hungry at school after lunch, talk about ways to solve the problem:
- Is there a better lunch choice? Many schools have several school lunch choices. The daily hot lunch will be more filling than the peanut butter and jelly pack.
- What is your child drinking with lunch? Milk is more filling than juice.
- Is your child eating everything? Sometimes, the child can solve his own problem by becoming a little less picky.
- If your child eating protein? Teach children to eat the protein first and save the cookie for dessert, even when you’re not watching!
- My experience is that most children have limited time for eating their lunches. Teach children to start with the main course, whether they’re eating the school lunch or a lunch packed at home.