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#1 of 10 Old 05-31-2014, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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lunch checkout process at your public school -- how does it work?

I'm part of a group of parents working with staff at our school to try to increase the length of recess after lunch.

We are realizing that one (of many) barriers is the time it takes for each child to type in their 4-digit ID number at the end of the lunch line. We are going to ask the school district whether there are any other options/alternatives. But in the meantime I thought I'd ask here. Is this the way all schools do it? If your public school does NOT require each child to type in an ID number before leaving the lunch line, how does it work?

It seems like a relatively quick process, but if an average of 150 kids get school lunch in each lunch period, and no one can go out to play until everyone receives and eats their lunch, you can see how eliminating that step could earn precious minutes of recess! Especially for the 4-6 year olds, who have trouble remembering their numbers and have to wait for staff to look them up every day, or who type them in wrong, and the lunchroom is already short-staffed for budgetary reasons ... you can see how it's a challenge!

Added fact: because of the very high percentage of children who qualify for free/reduced lunch in my DD's school, they are no longer collecting money from anyone -- lunch is now free for 100% of children. So it's not clear why it's important to link the meal to any individual child's ID. Unless this is some state/federal bureaucratic requirement that makes no logical sense?

How does your school do it?
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#2 of 10 Old 05-31-2014, 09:45 PM
 
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Our district does "bank a meal". Parents write a check or deposit online into the account, and the kids have little cards that they scan.

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#3 of 10 Old 05-31-2014, 09:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by indigosky View Post
I'm part of a group of parents working with staff at our school to try to increase the length of recess after lunch.

We are realizing that one (of many) barriers is the time it takes for each child to type in their 4-digit ID number at the end of the lunch line. We are going to ask the school district whether there are any other options/alternatives. But in the meantime I thought I'd ask here. Is this the way all schools do it? If your public school does NOT require each child to type in an ID number before leaving the lunch line, how does it work?

It seems like a relatively quick process, but if an average of 150 kids get school lunch in each lunch period, and no one can go out to play until everyone receives and eats their lunch, you can see how eliminating that step could earn precious minutes of recess! Especially for the 4-6 year olds, who have trouble remembering their numbers and have to wait for staff to look them up every day, or who type them in wrong, and the lunchroom is already short-staffed for budgetary reasons ... you can see how it's a challenge!

Added fact: because of the very high percentage of children who qualify for free/reduced lunch in my DD's school, they are no longer collecting money from anyone -- lunch is now free for 100% of children. So it's not clear why it's important to link the meal to any individual child's ID. Unless this is some state/federal bureaucratic requirement that makes no logical sense?

How does your school do it?
I work at a school. We have a lunch lady who works the computer, not the children. Children are required to be in line with their class, and in alphabetical order by last name. That way they are going through the line in the same order as they appear in the computer. She clicks them off as they go through. We have over 90% free lunch, but we need to keep track of which kids are present and get a lunch.

Part of this really depends on how the software is set up, and getting it changed might not be a small thing at all. However, have 2 computers instead of 1 would cut the time in half.

Our total lunch and recess block is 45 minutes, and we have just under 100 kids per lunch period. It works well.

Also, we have free breakfast for all kids, and we keep track of who eats it. I think that for record keeping, they need to track the number of students. We do breakfast differently. It is served in the classroom, so the teacher checks off on a piece of paper who was there, and then someone in the cafeteria has to enter it in the computer later.

I wouldn't care for a system where the children touch a computer right before lunch because of germs. We have kids watch hands BEFORE we go to the lunch room. Having every kid in the school touch the same key pad and then eat without washing their hands again is gross.
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but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 10 Old 06-01-2014, 04:33 AM
 
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At DS's former school, the kids orally give the code to the cashier. The younger kids hand a clothes pin to the cashier. The pins have the students' codes on them.

The school needs a way to ensure that lunch accounts are billed properly, for record keeping reasons. And having all children use a code allows for more confidentiality than when I was teaching. We used to use lunch tickets.
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#5 of 10 Old 06-01-2014, 01:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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These are interesting, and good ideas. I wonder if handing each kid their clothespin (or equivalent item) would add as much time as is being saved, plus create more work for staff (each class' clothespins in a bucket, which has to get walked back to the classroom and are now an unsorted mess that have to be gotten into the correct child's hand the next day. Hmm...

We talked about having a second computer/keypad, but the conclusion was that it would require a second human to staff it, which is out of the question budget-wise.

It will be interesting for us to try to find out why a tally/total count is not sufficient, since all lunches are free and (it seems like) 99% of kids get lunch each day.

We also discussed using the pieces of paper that contain each child's "order" (pizza vs. pb&j, etc) that each teacher sends to the cafeteria each morning. If ID numbers were on that sheet, someone could data enter later. However, staff said it would become the job of the lunch staff and they are already over-worked. Other staff seemed to think it wouldn't be fair to ask them to do daily data-entry, basically typing in 99% of the IDs for the school each day.

So many barriers! I really like these ideas, though, and will pass them along to the rest of our group. Keep them coming!
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#6 of 10 Old 06-04-2014, 05:22 PM
 
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In our school, the kids can punch in their number if they know it or the cafeteria check out person looks it up and punches it in. Our lunch and recess are fixed times (30 mins each)so one doesn't cut into the other.

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#7 of 10 Old 06-05-2014, 03:47 PM
 
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Our kids punch in their numbers themselves. It may seem like it takes a long time with the younger kids, and it does. But it goes super fast with the older kids as they have it memorized. I'd say by 2nd grade, it's pretty streamlined.

I think the problem is not the punching in of the #s , but the fact that they have to wait till everyone is done eating to go and play? Why is that? At our school, kids raise their hand to leave the table to either throw out the scraps from their hot lunch or the scraps from their lunch box. The ladies who work the lunch area then dismiss them and they go to the playground to play where they are supervised. They don't have to wait for everyone to be finished....that seems ridiculous.

We have 45 minutes for lunch.
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#8 of 10 Old 06-05-2014, 09:21 PM
 
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My dd's school does lunch cards the kids swipe. They have 45 minutes lunch periods also.
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#9 of 10 Old 06-06-2014, 08:08 AM
 
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The ladies who work the lunch area then dismiss them and they go to the playground to play where they are supervised. They don't have to wait for everyone to be finished....that seems ridiculous.

At our school, it is the same people who supervise the children in both areas. We don't have enough staff to both cover the playground AND the lunchroom at the same time.

This is the teacher's lunch break. The lunch ladies don't supervise kids -- they do food. We have 3 "campus monitors" who provide supervision, plus how ever many teacher's assistant happen to have kids in the period (but that corresponds to the number of special ed kids and how much help they need). We have about 100 students per lunch period.

Plus, its next to impossible to get subs for campus monitors and TAs, so especially during cold and flu season, we never had the number of staff that were scheduled to be there.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#10 of 10 Old 06-08-2014, 06:42 AM
 
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Our school has done two things that make our lunchroom flow much more smoothly. First we staggered lunches. We are a k-5 so we have two classes come in for lunch at the same time. K and 2, 1 and 3 and 4 and 5. That helps eliminate having all slow little kids going through at the same time and staggering the time they come in by 7 minutes frees up with lunch line more quickly.

The other thing for behavior is our classes go to recess first. Everyone balked at first, but honestly, it's been amazing. They eat their lunches because they aren't in a hurry to get outside, they are a little more hungry, a little more tired and they got out all their extra energy and focus on eating.

We do a 4 digit pin and after the first month or so all the kids know it and it works fine. The first month they have a popsicle stick with their name and number on it that they turn into the lunch lady. Lunch lady enters them as she has time and returns them to the teacher's mailbox after lunch.
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