POLL: How Do You Handle School Lunches?

Patch wants to know if your child buys his or her lunch, or if you pack it at home.

This week marks the start of the new year for most students who attend Anne Arundel County Public School (AACPS) and Patch wants to know what your kids are eating during the day.

AACPS offers both breakfast and lunch to students, and the current cost of meals is the same as it was last year. When the Board of Education voted in May to not raise meal prices, it was the first time in four years that parents did not see at schools. The price of breakfast is $1.35 at all schools, and lunch is $2.60 for elementary students and $2.85 at middle and high schools.

Improved menu offerings include more whole grains, lean protein choices and fruits and vegetables. Thanks to initiatives like the Farm to School program, students have access to fresh local produce. Schools will recognize the fifth annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week on Sept. 17-21.

According to AACPS, schools will serve more than 5 million lunches and 1.9 million breakfasts.

Patch wants to know: Does your child buy his or her lunch at school or do you pack it at home?

See more:

  • AACPS elementary lunch menu for
  • AACPS elementary lunch menu for

Take the poll and leave a comment to let us know what you think about the pricing and nutritional quality of school-provided lunches.

Meryl Tseng August 29, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Most of the time my kids pack lunch, but it depends on what is on the menu that day. My 1st grader is only buying on friday this week because she loves the pizza, but my 4th grader is buying 3 days this week. Length of lunch is definitely an issue, especially when you have 4-6 classes in each grade lining up for lunch.
Susan Jenkins (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I will check, but I believe that scheduling is considered a building management issue so it varies by school and the principals are in control. I will post to let everyone know what I find out.
radarradar August 29, 2012 at 03:39 PM
My 8th grader just told me that she goes to lunch, goes to ONE more class (which is about an hour) then school is done for the day. How can this be good for a kid? I know I get a bit shaky when I eat a late lunch. So I told her to bring an energy bar, and if she is given a hard time about it, I'll be more than happy to discuss it with whomever.
John August 29, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I've love to try to remember 30+ years back to middle school but I remember that I bought most of the time and never had any issue with sitting down and having plenty of time to eat. Something's changed.
Dawn August 29, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Even when they bring a lunch, its not enough time. My daughter is a slow eater and she is having a difficult time adjusting to the limited time she has. The schools say they get 30 minutes, but it takes about 5 min to get situated at the table and then they need to start packing up 5 to 7 minutes early. AT the school my girls were at last year, they had two lunch room people to help the Kindergartners open things give them ketchup, etc. By the time they got around to everyone, time was almost up. Its sad to see how much food is wasted whether they bring or buy lunch.
Tanya August 29, 2012 at 05:50 PM
My CES 5th grader eats lunch at 10:30. Her school day starts at 9:10. So she is eating an hour and 15 min after her school day starts going out for recess and then having to focus on academics for the next 4 hrs. They have planned a snack break in the afternoon but this just is WAY too early to eat lunch in elementary school.
G-Man August 29, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Yeah. Schools are over crowded
Hungry August 29, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Come on people. What do you want the school to do, cut up your kids lunch and feed it to them? If they make the day longer so little Johnny can take his time to eat then you complain the day is to long for them. Provide some solutions instead of bitchin! Make them a lunch they can eat in the time permitted and get over it.
cynthia August 29, 2012 at 11:04 PM
The school (grades 1-8) I attended did not have a cafeteria. Everyone ate their lunch in the classroom at their desk at the same time. We had plenty of time to eat and what was even better, we had a nice long recess with a lot of physical activity. I believe that the public school system has many faults, way too many to list here.
Patrick H. August 30, 2012 at 01:08 AM
I think that Cynthia has the best solution. It's sad how convenience and staffing overides what is best for out children. It's the same everywhere (we come from Mass.). Do they allow parent volunteers to help out in school. I'd be willing to help one day a week and monitor a home-run so that the kids had more time to eat. I remember when we had milk and pretzels delivered tothe classroom (2 cents for a pretzel and a nichkel for a 1/2 pint of milk). Helped us concentrate, learn math (had to have a milk monitor) and break up the day. Teachers had to accompany us to the lunch room and sit with us - not just drop us off and disappear for their break. I'm honestly leaning towards home-schooling.
Patrick H. August 30, 2012 at 01:12 AM
How about just doing away with the school lunch programs altogether? Weren't they initially developed in order to make sure that all children had at least one good meal a day? No one is complaining here Mr/Ms Hungry - we're just trying to understand and maybe correct what is going on. Just because I don't have the answer doesn't mean I shouldn't ask the question. Take care. And if you really are 'Hungry' please take a break and get a snack rather than take it out on us.
Tim Lemke (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 03:10 AM
When I was in high school, my lunch period began at 9:49 a.m. It's a problem, especially in big schools.
Patrick H. August 30, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Is this normal for AA County schools? Can they have lunch breaks as their last 'class'? Can students bring food into the classroom (like energy bars - GREAT IDEA)? How do I go about being a part of the PTA?
cynthia August 30, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Patrick, a crate of milk was delivered to each classroom with 1/2 pints. I don't buy the same old phrase anymore, "it's all about the children." No, it is not! It is all about the unions and the teachers they represent. There are good teachers but there are many bad teachers who will spend an entire working career in the profession. It is almost impossible to fire a teacher.
cynthia August 30, 2012 at 11:51 AM
Patrick, they would never do away with the lunch program, for two reasons; 1. the public school systems receive big money from the federal government (yes, us the taxpayers) and 2. they believe that they know better than the parent what to feed the child. Every year at the beginning of the school year a form comes home on a certain date that must be filled out (if you don't they continue to nag you to fill it out-they will even mail one to your home). It is strictly done for government funding (yes, that's the taxpayers again). They now serve breakfast in school and a year or two ago the state of Maryland started serving free meals in school over summer (at certain locations). This is ridiculous.
Susan Jenkins (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Here is the official response from Bob Mosier, AACPS spokesman: Principals make those decisions with input from their staff and, typically, the school’s faculty advisory committee. Lunch time and duration, along with recess time and duration, are determined by the school. Keep in mind that the number of necessary lunch periods, as well as cultural arts and other class periods, in a master schedule varies from school to school.
John August 30, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Even if the line wasn't an issue, the most I'd like my son buy would be once per weekly purely as a health issue. We'd rather back him stuff like turkey sandwiches. And it's cheaper.
Maria Avellaneda August 30, 2012 at 07:42 PM
It appears that the school system has a big problem in their hands. The students do not have enought time to eat, there isn't a good plan/. High schoolers are having the same problem,. They cannot eat, because of the long lines and if they get food they run out of time. By the way they dont have enough buses to transport the children, our son had to walk about 3 miles because they don't have enough space for allthey can not even fit in standidng room.
Calique August 30, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Sounds like people need to quit having kids!!! Too many kids = too many capacity problems. (I'm sort of kidding)
Stacey August 31, 2012 at 02:57 AM
I saw a power point slide up at our elementary school - they get 25 minutes to eat. I've only seen 2 lunch monitors at any given time for all the classes of a specific grade during lunch. I've seen kids buy a lunch, sit down, eat 2 things off the tray/box and throw the rest away. My son seldom comes home with food left and I don't think he throws any away b/c I asked him from day 1 to bring home his trash. He has early lunch (@ 10:55) and his 1st grade teacher gives them time for a snack in the afternoon. My understanding is that the teachers aren't required to do that and many don't!
Stacey August 31, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Was it chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or just plain milk that you got to choose? Just kidding - those were the good old days!
Stacey August 31, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I wonder if we looked at the MSA scores and duration of lunch/recess if there is any correlation...
Patrick H. August 31, 2012 at 03:21 AM
A true scheduling problem that might be solved if they had a professional doing it. I am not saying that principals and advisors aren't good at what they do. Nor am I trying to address the salaries of school teachers (retirement is aroung $60,000 per year after teaching 10 months a year for 20 years). But while in Mass. we saw no evidence that professionals were advising anyone on the actual scheduling of classes or lunch periods. We really are leaning towards home-schooling. Any thoughts on this or on the current voucher programs for non-public schools? This is a National problem that we think has only gotten worse with the Federal mandates for feeding our children. Maybe the true answer is a union that represents our children. Does the PTA have any input into any of this? And to answer your question Stacey. There was no such thing as chocolate or strawberry. Your only choice was white or nothing. And we were happy. I loved my two cent stick pretzel that I could roll around my mouth until all the salt and coating were gone. And if I was lucky I got a broken pretzel for a penny and could get twice as many with my four cents. Good memories.
Patrick H. August 31, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Doesn't sound like it's free to me. I didn't realize I had that many dependants. When is the next PTA meeting?
cynthia August 31, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Oh Patrick, a union would NEVER truly represent our children. Unions are part of the problem. Remeber, they represent the teachers, not the children.
Lisa September 04, 2012 at 01:37 AM
25 min. is not enough time for kids' lunch. It is unhealthy for kids to be inhaling their food and they aren't getting enough time to eat what they have. We were buying, but then decided she'd have more time to eat and better food if she took lunch. I go to her school for lunch and was upset by the teachers with microphones telling them to be quiet the whole time...seemed more like a prison. I thought that was down time for them. Also, last year my then 2nd grade daughter came home and told us that they were serving lunches on styrofoam trays. Not only do we teach our kids that styrofoam is bad for the environment and isn't biodegradable, they happened to be discussing recycling about that time...sending mixed messages! Do as I say, not as I do.
Patrick H. September 04, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Shamefully that is true. BUT if the courts can appoint a guardian-ad-litum to represent children why cann't we find a union that the parents can join on behalf of their children? According to other reports in the PATCH it appears as if we are the only county that has a voting student on our School Board. Why not a union? I'm just saying.
Patrick H. September 04, 2012 at 12:12 PM
God forbid they should have to wash trays. I'll bet the school principal could do something about this IF he/she really cared. It sounds as if it is 'just another class' to the school. It is supposed to be down time and social time. Back to lunches in the classroom. I haven't had time toreally research it yet - how are the academics here? Do they have gym, art and music or is FOOTBALL the word of the day?
Dawn September 04, 2012 at 02:52 PM
That is how it was at my girls school last year, with the microphone and telling them to be quiet. I stopped going up there at lunch because it was too stressful. They had recess before lunch, during winter time they had to bring their winter coats with them to lunch and sit on them. They also used Styrofoam trays. We have changed school this year, and its a green school, I need to find out if they use Styrofoam trays. They still use microphones but not as much and the kids are allowed to talk!!
Associate September 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM
My son looks at the menu calendar ahead of time and pretty much only buys on pizza day. That is fine with me because I prefer him to bring lunch from home so I know what he eats. And yes, my son gets 10-15 minutes for lunch and that leaves about 10-15 minutes for recess. THAT IS INSANE! My son has always eaten very slowly and he does come home with lunch in his lunchbox that has been untouched. The one good thing is that his teacher allows a quick snack time in class. Same as last year. He needs that to keep his blood sugar and FOCUS in check. It's funny, with all of the free time and creative, physical cut backs in school classes, the kids sure are not excelling as much as the state has planned. And please know that I do not mean that children are idiots, I just think having more free time and creative time in the past meant for better behaved, more creative problem solvers. I volunteer at my boys school weekly and have for 3 years now. I love the kids and they know me by name.


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