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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Frances N. O'Donnell, Coordinator
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Time for Lunch - Scheduling Lunch Periods

We have received many questions regarding whether or not students must have a specific amount of time for lunch during the school day.

Chapter 296 of the Laws of 1994 amended Education Law to require all public schools to schedule a time for full-day students to eat lunch daily.

The legislation requires each school to schedule a reasonable time for every student attending pre-kindergarten through grade twelve to consume lunch.  Since this legislation does not specify participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), all public schools, including those that do not participate in the NSLP, must comply with this law.

The definition of reasonable time was not stipulated and is left to the discretion of the district when preparing students’ schedules.  Consideration should be given to the length of lunch lines and the time it takes students to consume a lunch.

The law does not require that students consume a meal in a cafeteria.  Meals can be consumed in a classroom.  Some schools accommodate students with full schedules by allowing students to consume their meals during classroom instruction.

Questions should be directed to your Child Nutrition Representative via 518-473-8781.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at:, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Click here for Nondiscrimination Statement translations.