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Should Kids be Allowed to Have a Snack at School?

Hourly wage employees typically get two 15-minute breaks a day plus lunch, but some elementary school children are being expected to work straight through.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to snacks at school.

Believe it or not, in some school districts across the country, snack time has become a thing of the past. Kindergarteners are still being allowed a snack break in a few places, probably more for the need to teach manners and social skills than out of a desire to feed hungry bellies. But, after that, schools seem to be moving toward a “lunch-is-enough” model, even if that lunch happens at 10:30 a.m. and the child doesn’t walk through his or her front door until after 4 o’clock. And, from what I am hearing, in those cases, those children are racing through the front door right to the refrigerator door in search of something to eat. I know that my third-grader does. And, he’s not looking for cookies. An, apple, a banana…anything will do. That’s a mother’s tip-off that a child truly is hungry. Some days I am actually serving dinner before 5 p.m. to try to calm his clamoring tummy. I thought it was just my child, until I spoke to parents in the Lehigh Valley and beyond who are experiencing the same thing.

So, here’s what we want to know:

Should kids be allowed to have a snack at school? If you have a school-age child, is he/she allowed to have a snack break during the school day?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Jennifer Cole September 09, 2012 at 01:31 PM
My child is not allowed a snack break in school (Bethlehem Township). It seems to me (and my daughter) that school is a roller coaster ride that goes on for hours with no getting off. During visitation night, the third grade teachers said over and over how much more is being asked of children than when "we" were kids. My question is, "Did we turn out so horribly that we must drill them like mice on treadmills?" I had a far more relaxed elementary experienced, and I am no slouch when it comes to academics. Let them be children! Let them have a break, and cut the homework way down. They are exhausted when they come home from school. They do not benefit from slugging through thirty to sixty minutes more upon arriving home. Let them draw, paint, read, play soccer, or (God forbid) flake out and wind down after school.
Jennifer Cole September 09, 2012 at 01:33 PM
correction: experience
GrowUpSaucon September 09, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Yes, children should be offered a healthy snack and beverage so they can refuel.....just as they witness the staff doing. (Fair share...just like the staff says).
Heather Depew September 09, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I think children should get a healthy snack in school. It promotes healthy eating and helps them learn better because they aren't sitting there starving. My worst class of the day when I was younger was last period. I was starved by then. That's what happens when your lunch is scheduled from 10:45am-11:15am.
Lisa Amey September 09, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Definitely, especially in elementary school. My first grader gets a very rushed lunch early in the day, rarely has time to eat it all, and her little belly needs a snack in the afternoon. Her class does have one, so that's great. She still comes home starving!
Mary Anne Looby September 09, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Absolutely! Kids are growing (as are their brains) and they need to be fueled. Fifteen minutes in the morning and in the afternoon is necessary, especially when they have early or late lunch.
No Fatty Pig Fatties Allowed September 10, 2012 at 04:06 AM
depends how fat the kid is, some of these fatties should be locked in a box without food for a while, the fattening of America is disgusting.
Beth September 10, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Yes, I think a healthy snack is important for the kids. If they are expected to learn and be alert in class, they need to have fuel for their brain-healthy fuel. We are new to the public schools and have had the same experience as Lisa A-with the rushed lunch, so the snack in the afternoon is very important for the kids.
Jennifer Elston September 10, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I also agree with most of the above comments. A healthy snack is necessary so they can refuel. I know they don't get anough time to finish lunch before being rushed out the door. I'm not sure what time my daughter eats lunch, but she is starving after school. A quick apple or carrot break would be nice.
Heather Depew September 10, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I think providing a snack that is healthy is another way to teach youngsters on what to eat to be healthy and also not feel like they are starving. It is also known that 5 or 6 small meals/snacks a day is better than 3 big meals a day. It actually promotes healthy eating... not "fatties" as described by one jerk of a person commenting.
Mariska van Aalst September 10, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Kids at Seven Generations are allowed a snack, and I know it definitely makes all the difference for my girls (and their teachers!). I think they would self-destruct without them! Another thing that helps is that all the kids have personal water bottles at their desks that they drink from all day long. This not only helps kids stay hydrated (especially important to keep them healthy when viruses are rampant, or during/after hikes in the woods), but also cuts down on disruption of kids constantly asking to go into the hallways to get a drink at the fountain. I'm very grateful for these two policies.
Linda Stark September 10, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Let children have a snack for the reasons mentioned above. It would keep their blood-sugar level throughout the day and they wouldn't come home starving. Everyone knows that eating five or six small meals is much better than three large meals....or one constant graze after school. This is a no-brainer.
Bob September 12, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Children eating in the classroom would attract rodents and roaches. Also more trash would be generated.
Andrew Wilt September 12, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Bob, did you mean that the crumbs children left behind would attract rodents and roaches?
Heather N. September 13, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I'm appalled that they are not allowed to have a snack. (I wouldn't otherwise know; my daughter isn't school age yet.) I for one can't get through my work day without a snack, so how should children be expected to concentrate without something to eat besides lunch? My daughter seems constantly hungry now; I can't imagine her managing without a snack once she is in school.
Shannon Hall Minnick September 23, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I think we need to treat school children like human beings and not robots. I'm sure most adults have a snack while they are at work. Let's treat our children with the same respect. They are people. They get hungry, and when they are hungry they are not likely to work to their best ability and are also not likely to feel good about being at school! They should also be allowed to have water bottles at their desks. My children's teachers have allowed snacks and they have asked parents to send things in that are not crumbly to help reduce any mess.
Motherof1 October 10, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Whether a snack is appropriate or not, what I want to know is, why is it that there are no snacks allowed in the Southern Lehigh School District until PSSA testing weeks, then the kids are specifically asked to bring a snack every day of testing? Hmmmmn. . .. seems they DO realize the benefits and the correlation between blood sugar levels and cognitive performance. Now, if they'd just allow snacks every day, maybe Southern Lehigh, which is ranked second in the Lehigh Valley region, would finally surpass Parkland (#1) on those PSSA tests! Hey teachers and school administrators out there! that's "food for thought"!
Amyolene November 15, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Who is supposed to pay for this "healthy snack"? As a teacher, I cannot afford to feed 25 1st graders. And it is totally inequitable for some children to bring snack from home and other parents cannot afford it. Unless school districts are willing to pay for this, for all children, I am not sure that we can allow snack in the classroom any longer.
Amyolene November 15, 2012 at 06:10 PM
It does. I stopped having snack in my room this year, and we no longer have an ant problem.
rolex sub November 15, 2012 at 07:02 PM
The only potential reason for not allowing snacking is that some parents can't afford it (although you can get snacks for <$10/ week). Other than that, why not allow snacking? As to it having to be "healthy", that decision should be made by the parents, not the school district.
Amyolene November 15, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I work in a school where about 80% of families get free lunch. That means, they cannot afford the $1.50, so yes, MANY parents cannot afford snack. I also believe that snack is a privileged American assumption - stating how much snacks cost is an assumption of affordability. We have recess, free-choice time, play time, and many times during the day to practice manners. I would LOVE it, if the state paid for snacks, but until they pay for other resources, I don't see that happening.
Crestor Januvia November 15, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Let's take it out of your bloated pension....
Crestor Januvia November 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Oh ya... they can't afford a snack... it might put a crimp on their cigarette money, or lottery ticket money. Always the whining about the parents who "can't afford it". Too bad then. Their kids get no snacks. Maybe the children will go home and ask "Mommy, why are you such a sucky parent, blowing all my snack money on yourself". Oh I know... they are struggling.... they really can't afford a box of Trix every two weeks. BUMS.
Crestor Januvia November 15, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Amyolene,The state is too busy paying for your bloated pensions, and the district is too busy paying your bloated salaries and bloated gold plated benefits. It's all about the kids, remember? Take a pay cut, or drop your pension rate, or pay $4000 a year for your family health care like we all do. Then there will be plenty of money. Until you do that, shut your trap about the State no paying. We pay enough in taxes to pay for your bloated pay and benefits.
Lin Higgins March 01, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Lunch and breakfast is required at my school but snack is not. I do allow snack break but if a child can't control there behavior they may lose the snack and have to eat it at dismissal or at home. Some kids bring snack some do not. I use to buy apples for those who forgot or animal crackers. They went quickly but I did not mind. Now policy has changed no snacks or food can be shared by anyone. No more lessons with food or parties. So now if a kid does not have a snack they go without. So sad that we are ripping the joys and treats out of being a child. I am all for healthy but a treat once in a while made great memories when I was a kid,
TheBoyInTheShadows March 13, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Heather kids need to have a snack in school so they have enough fule to make it till lunch or if after lunch then till they get home and i would know i am a 6th grader and i am failing because i am always to hungary to work so i try to sleep then get in trouble

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