Two Warrnambool schools have shifted lunch breaks for children earlier in a bid to create healthy eating habits.
Warrnambool East Primary School, which trialled an 11.30am lunch last year, is pushing ahead with the earlier break while across the city, St Pius X Primary School, is a couple of weeks into its own experiment.
The two schools believe the changes minimise unhealthy snacking.
“Years ago we would see kids grab snacks and fill up on unhealthy food while they wait for a one o’clock or 1.30 lunch break,” Warrnambool East primary assistant principal Robin Ledin said.
“Now they’ll fill up on sandwiches and other substantial foods.”
“Anecdotally students are more engaged and it helps toward a calm climate within the school.”
St Pius X Primary School principal Joe Ewing said the benefits they were witnessing in their first year of the trial were two-fold.
“Without proper testing I’d say it has already made a difference to what kids are bringing in their lunch boxes in these first few weeks of the year. We are seeing a change away from snacking as we try to avoid packet foods,” he said.
“And we’ve seen an anecdotal drop in rubbish in the school yard.”
Time in the classroom remains the same. Both schools have a morning fruit break, 10-minute lunch break, half-hour afternoon play, a second 10-minute snack break and a second, shorter, afternoon play.
The approach being trialled by the schools can be traced back to previous Warrnambool East Primary school principal Lindy Sharp.
Now a senior education improvement leader within the Department of Education, Ms Sharp said children were the inspiration for the meal changes.
“We were looking at the breakdown of a child’s day in terms of learning and also at what a child likes doing,” she said. “We started to think about the school day from a child’s perspective and asked why have a snack before play when all you want to do is play?”
“The changes have enabled the children to have a satisfying meal in a calm social environment before moving on to the next two-hour learning block.”