I used to supervise an after-school study hall that was derailed daily by snacking. The first fifteen minutes were taken up by children trying to scavenge snacks from the closed school kitchen or bartering with friends for food. While bringing snacks from home was always permitted, this group of middle schoolers had a hard time with organization and memory, so they neglected to pack their own food. Later in the afternoons the moods of those who hadn't eaten would take a dive and so too would behavior. A frustrated teacher attempted to purchase food for the study hall enrollees, asking that those who wanted to snack bring in money to repay her costs. Of course, the same children who had trouble bringing in their own food would also forget to ask their parents for a contribution to the snack fund. We teachers never did fully solve the problem of the hangry children low on blood sugar, patience, and concentration.
Have you ever asked your child if she feels hungry during her day away from home? You probably have some flexibility to grab a snack or reschedule meals to suit your needs, but children do not always have the same freedom at school and scheduled activities. The frenzied pace of school lunches can make it hard for slower eaters and children with small appetites to eat enough food to sustain them through the afternoon. Also, sometimes kids’ days are longer than we realize. Think over your child’s schedule and the number of hours she might be waiting between meals. If hunger is an issue for your child, you might try working together to snack plan the same way that your family plans for meals.
I encourage families to think also about their neighbors' children. Our classrooms are more harmonious and higher achieving when all eat well. Advocate for school policies that give all children adequate time and access to food throughout the day. Consider too providing a monetary donation to your local food bank to help those who have trouble providing nutritious meals and snacks to their families. As well, ask your school whether any students have meal accounts that are in arrears. If so, you may be able to provide a contribution to help students in need.