Time to Eat: An Emerging Consideration for School Lunch Delivery and the Nutrition of Colorado’s Students

Date Posted: March 3, 2020

Experiencing hunger can negatively impact a child’s health, behavior and overall performance in school. Though substantial progress has been made to increase access to school foods, ensuring adequate time to eat remains to be a challenge for students and schools.  We know there are some Colorado schools and districts promoting best practices around adequate time to eat, who incorporate a set amount of seated meal time in their wellness policies. This issue brief shares some of those best practices, highlights what research tells us about the importance of ensuring adequate time to eat, and shares the perceptions of parents, administrators and school food providers as it relates to time to eat. Finally it summarizes several strategies for schools, districts, state agencies and legislators to consider in order to overcome those challenges. The strategies do are not an exhaustive list. We know if we want to solve this problem, we will have to address policies at the local, state and federal levels.

Since 2017, the Colorado Children’s Campaign has convened the Lunch Cabinet to work toward ensuring all Colorado children have consistent access to nutritious school lunches. Our efforts in 2019 focused on the financial barriers to accessing school lunch for low-income children; HB19-1171 (the Expand Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Act) was passed in the 2019 session, eliminating the reduced price lunch co-pay for all students through 12th grade.

Thank you to our partners for their support!

2020 TTE Document 2.25.20