New Fla. law making some kids miss school lunch - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

New Fla. law making some kids miss school lunch

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ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - Parents are furious in St. Lucie County where some kids are coming home from school with rumbling tummies, starving from skipping lunch. One mom says she learned the state-mandated extended recess is taking time away from lunch for elementary school kids in St. Lucie County. 

Helen Jean Eklund's first grader started school starving for knowledge, but she's coming home every day starving, literally. 

"My daughter came home about three days in a row complaint of stomach ache, crying that she was hungry," said Eklund.

A new law requires all elementary school children get a mandatory 20 minutes of recess time. However, in St. Lucie County it's cutting into lunch time.

"I got a note home from the teacher stating that the mandated 20-minute recess had now cut their lunch to a 20- minute lunch," added Eklund.

That's when Eklund realized it's not that her first grader isn't having enough time to finish her lunch, she isn't eating at all.  

"She said, 'Yeah mom, I went and got lunch but by the time I sat down they told me I had to throw it away," said Eklund. 

Eklund posted her concerns on social media and said she got an overwhelming response from parents with children in several St. Lucie County elementary schools. Some children are taking packed lunches to school and either having to throw them out or are coming home with half their lunch still packed. 

"How can you concentrate on learning when all you can think about is the hunger pains?" said Eklund. "How do you have the energy to play and do recess, if you haven't consumed enough calories to do so?"

Eklund brought the problem up to her daughter's school principal. 

The district said, "St. Lucie Public Schools is committed to ensuring that students have adequate time to have a nutritious meal for lunch and partake in the additional time for recess as per the new legislation.  When new procedures are put into place, the district is interested in feedback to support adjustments during the initial implementation that will benefit the overall teaching and learning environment for students."

Eklund wants to see the children get their full 30-minute lunch break back.

"Us as adults we get a 30-minute lunch working an 8 hour shift, why can't our children get the same?" she said. 

In Martin County, the school district made adjustments to start the school day 10 minutes earlier to compensate for the extended recess. 

Palm Beach County schools said it is not having issues with its lunch period.

Any parents who has concerns about their child missing lunch should contact their child's school principal or their school district.

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