LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Due to the pandemic, the USDA has made school meals free for all students this school year, including those in the Clark County School District, but some families are saying they're worried students are not being given enough time to eat.

A former CCSD teacher said she isn't surprised to hear this.

"They'd have a meltdown, is what the parents would tell me," said Brittany Richey, who worked as a kindergarten teacher with the district, and later as a substitute. "They were having meltdowns like crazy after school because they were so tired and hungry ... They only get 20 minutes for lunch and 10 minutes for recess, so by the time they get to the cafeteria, it's already been about two or three minutes, and by the time they get through the line it's already been at least five minutes, and so they don't really have much time at all, especially the kindergarteners."

The CDC recommends kids have at least 20 minutes of seat time for lunch, a measure of time that begins once they've sat down with their food. Subsequently, the Nevada Department of Agriculture adopted this guidance.

"These things are basic human needs, and so without those being met, it's hard for students to learn at their full potential," Richey said. 

It's a problem CCSD families have complained about for years, according to Nevada PTA President Rebecca Garcia, but some parents said they worry the problem has been compounded during the pandemic.

"I think it's a combination, again, of staffing, and I think there's more kids taking advantage of the hot lunch that's available at school and it's free," Garcia said.

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It prompts a question in the age of COVID-19: How do you somehow try to structure lunches to become more safe, but feed a higher number of kids in such a short and compressed time?

Garcia also runs a CCSD Parents Facebook page. She said lunchtime issues and transportation issues are the two topics parents have been expressing the most frustration with since the start of the school year. She said many parents want to see change.

"There's a lot of parents that would support longer recesses, or more recesses and a longer lunch period," Garcia said.

But Garcia pointed out that longer lunches could mean extra costs for the district.

"You have to also then look at the financial ramifications of that, and whether or not the district can absorb it and whether or not teachers would accept a longer contract day," Garcia said.

It comes down to each individual principal how they manage it, which Garcia feels ultimately leads to this question: "How is the district supervising administrators in their planning?" she asked.

The CCSD communications office couldn't yet be reached for a response when FOX5 reached out Sunday.

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(2) comments

Rylee

As a student, we're given VERY little time, then we're not allowed to eat in class. With schools becoming more and more crowded, the lunch lines are getting longer. It even takes 15 minutes just to get a bag of chips from the vending machine. Most don't bother eating anymore, and may I add the rat infestation and the moldy food we get? It's disgusting! Students often get food poisoning, and the school just gets away with it. This isn't just one school, this was my 2 elementary schools, middle school, and high school. This is a CCSD problem. Students are choosing to starve themselves to prevent eating moldy pizza when we should be able to trust that our food is fresh and healthy. Even if it was good, that would mean more people would want food, making lines even longer, and impossible to get food. We get 30 minutes. It takes average 15 minutes to get through the like, and 15 for something from the vending machine. Just WAITING for food takes up the 30 minutes. Even the teachers complain about not being able to eat. This seems quite unprofessional when they're expected to feed us all. I'm honestly sick of it.

qwerty123

There needs to be far more time for recess and lunch in ccsd. The schools are far too focused on test scores and not the social/emotional growth of kids.

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