Single-sex lunches benefit U.S. school children

Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:01pm EST
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By Kevin Murphy

Kansas City, Missouri (Reuters Life!) - Single-sex lunches introduced in three schools in America's heartland have helped to reduce misbehavior among students and improve eating habits, authorities said.

The Wichita, Kansas middle schools, for students aged 11 to 14 years old, started the separate lunches for boys and girls to reduce teasing, rough-housing and flirting.

"The girls really seem to like it because they get their girl time without having to worry about boys," said Michael Archibeque, principal at Pleasant Valley Middle School. "And the boys don't show off for the girls. I think it's the perfect age for this."

But what Achibeque likes most is that more students are finishing their food, which means less waste and fewer students having to study while hungry in the afternoon.

"I could not believe how many kids are actually eating," Archibeque said.

At Truesdell Middle School in Wichita, which has had single-sex lunches for two years, the positive impact lasts even after lunch is over, according to Principal Jennifer Sinclair.

The students seem to have adapted to the single-sex lunches, Sinclair said. When a mixed-gender lunch was offered recently as incentive to encourage school fundraising, the kids were not interested.

"They said, 'Yuck, why would we want that?'" Sinclair said.   Continued...