New research brief on school lunch periods in California shows insufficient time for eating

Apr 21, 2023

A new research brief developed by the Nutrition Policy Institute provides findings about California K-12 students' time to eat school meals. During the 2021-22 school year, the final year of meals being free of charge for all students as part of the federal government's COVID-19 pandemic response, NPI researchers surveyed and interviewed California school food service directors and parents of students, and conducted focus groups with students. Responses showed that adequate time for students to sit and eat school meals is a concern among all three groups. Food service directors and students made suggestions for improvement including adding more lunch periods and increasing cafeteria staffing; both groups also suggested extending the lunch period. The findings on time to eat are one of many analyses being undertaken in NPI's evaluation of California's School Meals for All program. During school year 2022-23, NPI researchers along with national colleagues are collecting data again from these same stakeholders in school nutrition programs in California and 9 other states.

By Christina EA Hecht
Author - UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator
By Katherine Lanca
Editor - Graduate Student
By Wendi Gosliner
Editor - Project scientist
By Lorrene Ritchie
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist