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School lunch time: your questions answered

School lunch time: your questions answered
Posted on 10/22/2019

student scooping popcorn students eating lunch

We recently shared on our social media channels about National School Lunch Week, which took place Oct. 14-18, 2019. We informed our community that our district serves an average of 8,500 meals each day. We also reiterated that we believe there is an important, positive relationship between good nutrition and health, behavior and student learning. 


Megan de Vries, Director of Food and Nutrition ServicesThis information stirred up concerns about the amount of time students at our schools get to eat, as well as some other questions. We listened to those concerns and sat down with Megan de Vries, our Director of Food and Nutrition Services, to get some more information.


Question: How long does each school get for their lunch period?


Megan de Vries:  

Our lunch periods range between 20 and 30 minutes. One of our biggest challenges with time for our students to eat, is having adequate spaces. Our Capital Projects team has plans to add auxiliary spaces to some of our schools if voters approve the 2020 bond. These would provide separate Physical Education and cafeteria spaces. Currently, many of our buildings have to share that space, which makes scheduling a challenge. 


Question: What is the district doing to improve efficiencies at our schools? Can you provide some examples? 


Megan de Vries: 

We are taking steps to increase efficiencies in our cafeterias. Those include: 

  • Adding additional servers or registers to cashier students through the meal line.

  • We work on training students to use the tongs in the salad bar, as this skill can take time for our younger students. 

  • We also work to help students learn their seven digit student number so they can get through the lines faster.

  • In September our principals evaluate schedules and work with Food and Nutrition Services to make adjustments as needed.


We want to encourage our families to help with lunch time by:

  • Volunteering (parent, guardian, grandparent, etc.) to provide lunch time supervision where they can help younger students open milk, condiments, and other prepackaged items. Having that extra adult volunteer helps kids stay on task. Volunteers could also provide music entertainment or read a story while students eat. This is great for creating a positive cafeteria environment. 

  • Check out the menu the night before so your student can choose what they want to eat. Our menu also includes all the nutrition information. This will speed up the line as many students are still deciding what they would like to eat for their meal when they get to the cashier.

  • Help your students, especially the younger ones, learn their seven digit student number that they can use in the cashier line. 

  • Volunteer to join our Wellness committee by contacting me, Megan de Vries.


Question: Does the state mandate how much time the district can allocate for our students to eat? 


Megan de Vries:
Not currently. Last year the state of Washington did an audit of “seated lunch time” for students. Seated-lunch time is defined as the time students have to eat after they get their meal. The recommended time from the CDC is 20 minutes. 


Question: Is there a plan to replace single-use eating utensils?


Megan de Vries:
Yes, the district has implemented reusable utensils at all the elementaries in the city of Edmonds. Next, we would like to expand reusable utensils to other schools that have a green team or environmental club that can support the implementation and have a peer presence.

In December, the sites in the city of Edmonds will move to compostable and/or reusable utensils. We can only add composting where it has school support to run the program. 


Question: I recently saw a food sticker label on my student’s fruit. Do you wash fresh produce? 


Megan de Vries:
Yes, we thoroughly wash all of our fresh produce and we strictly follow all state and federal guidelines. When possible, we try to purchase produce without the food-safe stickers, however, to get the best variety of local or seasonal favorites they often come with stickers. 


Question: Anything else you would like to share?


Megan de Vries: 

I really appreciate community members, parents and guardians expressing their concerns with us. When you speak up, it helps my department make improvements to our operations and our menus. I also want you to know I am happy to meet with parents and guardians over a school meal to address any additional questions or comments. You can email me at devriesm691@edmonds.wednet.edu.  Thank you again for your time. 


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