Lunch rooms across the country

By Alison Rockwell on July 23, 2012
Many schools and school boards have found success with a variety of lunch scenarios including nutrition breaks, using older students as monitors, paid lunch programs and even classical music!

Surrey, B.C.


Elementary students on the whole eat in their classrooms including at large inner-city schools where upwards of 27 children in one class alone may stay for lunch.

Elwick Community School, Winnipeg

Families who live within walking distance of Elwick Community School, part of Manitoba’s River East Transcona School District in Winnipeg, are required to pay $1 per day for each day a student stays at school for lunch (students who are bused in are exempt). Their lunch program, run by an arms-length parent organization that reports to both the parent council and the principal, uses these funds to pay for supervisors who will oversee up to a maximum of two classrooms.

Island View Public School, Saint John. N.B.

The school’s hot lunch program includes menu options such as grilled chicken wraps, turkey subs and lasagna. Teachers stay in classrooms with the students while they eat, and in the junior wing, parent volunteers assist. Each student is responsible for cleaning up their lunch and placing any garbage and recycling in bins. Depending on the size of the school, students in other areas of the province, including all 28 elementary schools in Moncton, eat lunch either in their classroom or at tables in school cafeterias.

Halton and Hamilton-Wentworth school boards, Ontario


Schools have instituted the Balanced Day which allows for two nutrition/recess breaks throughout the day. Among other benefits, the program has lessened the need to rely on paid supervisors and crowded lunchrooms and allowed students to eat in classrooms. Avon Matiland Board, Ontario In the more rural Avon Maitland board, children typically eat at their desks. Often Grade 7 and 8 lunchroom monitors help children with tasks such as opening milk cartons, which earns them points and awards for taking on this responsibility. Using student lunch monitors has also helped to cut down on staff supervision requirements.

Port Williams Elementary, N.S.


Group lunchroom eating was eliminated years ago. “We do not eat in the lunchroom anymore, for probably the last 15 years, as it is not big enough for the whole school to eat at one time,” says Karen S., an elementary school lunchroom supervisor at the school. “It [was] very noisy and we found that students were not eating – they were too concerned with what was going on around them.” Instead, lunchtime at Port Williams and many other schools in the province includes placemats for students and dimmed lights or soft music. Teachers report that students eat much better in this atmosphere and that they are also able to monitor student lunches “to make sure all of our students have a lunch or enough to eat.”

Tantallon Elementary, N.S.


Most lower elementary school students eat within their classrooms in this school whose population numbers close to 730 students and staff. The lunch monitor ratios are the same as teacher to student ratios, so one monitor per class is acceptable. Because kids tend to rush eating their food so they can get outside to play, here they let them play first, and eat later.

Alison Rockwell is a writer and mother of two elementary school-aged children in Toronto. She looks forward to the day her kids are old enough to make their own lunch.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, August/September 2012.

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