I am the proud father of two rapidly growing and big eating elementary school students. My wife and I always take the time to pack a good hearty and healthy lunch for them, and for the most part they eat it all: emphasis on for the most part (more to come).
As a former middle school teacher, I remember clearly never having enough time to enjoy my lunch, and as a result, my lunches often were either fast food of some kind, or I ate later during my planning period if I could. It took having my own kids to realize that the kids often do not have enough time to eat their lunches completely as well.
Back to the “for the most part”. I noticed sometimes that my kids lunches were only partially eaten when they came home and I knew that it was not due to them not liking their food (they eat anything we give them). On top of that, they would often start wolfing down snacks when they came home, before dinner, and still eat a healthy dinner.
After doing some investigation, it all comes down to lunchtime, or not enough lunchtime.
“National school and health organizations and some states - including California - recommend that students have at least 20 minutes to eat lunch after they're served. But "that's not happening in all schools,"” http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Schoolkids-starved-for-time-to-eat-their-lunches-4766005.php
In addition, if you are purchasing lunch at school, it gives you even less time because you also have to stand in line for a while.
I would like to say giving students a longer lunchtime is the solution, but I know full well there would be so many other details that would need to go along with that. I will suggest that the school districts simply enforce the 20 minute time that is already supposed to be occurring, because it really is not happening.
Let the students eat.
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III