Students at some schools in Florida are now being served lunch when a lot of people are just starting to think about breakfast.
Florida ninth grader Aiden Mullen is your typical teen dealing with the challenges of school.
Adding to his struggles this school year is an unconventionally early lunch.
For Mullen and other students at Winter Park Ninth Grade Center, his lunch on some days starts as early as 9:30 in the morning.
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"I think they could definitely make lunch later and not at breakfast time," Aiden said.
"When I was growing up, we never heard of such a thing,” says Aiden’s dad, Mark Mullen, “a lunch hour that would start at 9:30 or even 10:30.”
School officials say the early lunch is needed because this generation of students starts its days so much earlier.
Classes begin just after 7 in the morning.
"Our students start getting on bus at about 5:30 to about 6:40, so it's 2 1/2 hours almost 3-hours before some of them eat," says principal Dave Stanley.
And Winter Park is not the only school serving lunch before some have eaten breakfast, even though there is a federal mandate that schools serve lunch between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
This year in Florida alone, at least 60 schools have been granted waivers to start lunch between 8:30 and 9:30 in the morning.
While a Penn State study from five years ago linked early school lunches to unhealthy eating, county nutritionists believe they have the student's best interests in mind.
"As a nutritionist you have to work around people's schedules,” says Lora Gilbert, Orange County senior director of school food service program.
“So we know they are up at 5:30, 6 o'clock. They may or may not have breakfast. And so if they are eating at 10 o'clock, that may be the first meal of the day."
Because he's a diabetic and takes medication on 12-hour intervals, Aiden is allowed to eat lunch in between classes closer to the noon hour.
But he still joins his friends in the cafeteria as they eat their hamburgers and corndogs at a time when most are still eating cereal.
"Definitely all my friends are complaining about having to eat at breakfast time,” Aiden said. “You know it shouldn't be like that."
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