One of the reasons my daughter was so excited to start school was being able to buy lunch at school. Each month we print up the menu and she excitedly highlights the days that she wants to buy lunch . The only two rules we gave her was that one, she could only choose a maximum of two days each week to buy and two, she had to be willing to eat/try a bite of everything they were serving. So for example, even though she likes hotdogs, she doesn't like the baked beans or sauerkraut that they were serving with it, so she couldn't buy school lunch that day.
Our current school lunch price is $2.10. I don't mind paying that knowing that she's going to eat a pretty healthy lunch. Our school district also uses MyNutrikids.com, an online prepayment service, which means I don't have to worry about lost or forgotten lunch money. (One down-side is the service fee that they charge each time you deposit money into the account.)
Going back to the school lunch menu, it's nice to see healthy meals like baked chicken nuggets, reduced-fat cheese, whole-wheat buns, and turkey sausage. My daughter knows that when she decides to buy lunch that day she needs to get the hot lunch. Not a buttered roll or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Things were going well until one day I asked her if she was able to finish her lunch. I believe it was a day the cafeteria was serving chicken nuggets, brown rice, and broccoli. She told me, "Well, I had two nuggets, a couple bites of rice, and some broccoli." As she continued to buy lunch I'd ask if she was able to finish it. The answer was always, "No, I didn't have enough time."
My daughter is given approximately 25 minutes for lunch. This includes waiting on line, eating, having to use the bathroom if needed, etc. My daughter is also a VERY slow eater. She's easily distracted, likes to talk, and also just chews slowly. I was concerned that she just wasn't getting enough to eat. Some days when I send her with her lunch half of it comes back uneaten, again with the line that "I didn't have enough time to eat it." I give her a snack when she comes home from school. Hmm, could this be why she's always eating all of her dinner?! Because she's starving?!!!
Well, we ended up cutting her back to buying school lunch to one day a week now. We've told her if she continues to be able to eat all of her lunch then we'll bump her back up to two days. On days that she brings lunch to school, when she comes home and shows me that she's eaten all of it there are big high fives and praise!
As a former teacher, I know that they can't give kids much more time than my daughter's currently alloted for lunch. They also need at least 25 minutes of recess, which I'm a big supporter of. My husband and I continue to stress to my daughter though how important it is to eat healthy food and that she needs to try to eat all of her lunch so her body's not hungry during school. We'll just have to see if she learns to eat faster......