Florida Schools Early Lunch: Why Students Are Having Their Midday Meal At 9:30 A.M. (VIDEO)
Who hasn't had their share of cold pizza for breakfast? But for high school students across Florida, their 9:30 a.m. meal is no makeshift breakfast from last night's leftovers -- it's lunch time.
At least 60 schools in Florida have received waivers from the Florida Department of Education to bypass a federal mandate requiring schools to serve lunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. -- so they can offer the midday meal as early as 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
And the cafeteria doesn't serve breakfast food for "lunch" at the early hour -- offerings are the same as if students were eating in the middle of the day: burgers, fries, taco salads, barbecue subs, pepperoni and cheese sandwiches.
At one school, lunch starts at 9 a.m. on early-dismissal days and 9:30 a.m. on regular schedule days, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
The extreme lunch times are partly the result of strict schedules that schools follow, according to the Sentinel.
Schools say that the early lunch, the NBC TODAY show reports, is necessary because the new generation of students starts its day much earlier as classes start just after 7 a.m. and the state's high schools are serving breakfast shortly after 6 in the morning. Students are leaving for school as early as 5:30 a.m., Winter Park Ninth Grade Center Principal Dave Stanley told TODAY.
"Definitely all my friends are complaining about having to eat at breakfast time," Winter Park student Aiden Mullen told TODAY. "You know, it shouldn't be like that."
And other students simply don't eat breakfast since lunch is so early. So "lunch" for them, is actually breakfast.
But on the other end, middle schoolers in the state are dealing with the opposite issue: late lunch. Some middle school parents are worried because their children are hungry when lunch times are around 2 p.m., according to the Sentinel's School Zone blog.
Schools elsewhere are attempting different approaches to timing school meals -- and the results are telling. In California, schools have actually pushed back the breakfast hour to serve the first meal during class. More students are eating breakfast, and schools are saving money and minimizing waste. There's also potential for improved student performance.
This move by Florida schools could have also been a point of confusion with respect to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plan, announced last month, to eliminate potatoes from school breakfasts and drastically reduce the amount of potatoes in school lunches. The initiative aims to reduce students' caloric and starchy intake. The Senate voted this month to block the proposal.