Family-style lunches at Virginia high school help serve up success

FRANKLIN, Va (WTKR) -- On a typical school day, Franklin High School students have a little more than 20 minutes for lunch. By the time they wait in line for their food and sit down, students say most of their lunch block is over, forcing students to rush to finish their food and get to their next class.

In an attempt to give students a more enjoyable lunchtime, the school system decided to try something new.

Once a month, students are treated to a family-style lunch. On these days, instead of standing in line for food, when students walk into the school cafeteria, their lunch is already on the table.

“Kids get to sit together and pass around food and just make it a family atmosphere,” explained Franklin High School Principal Travis Felts. “It gives our students the chance to serve each other instead of having to go through the lunch line.”

The family-style lunch program launched in February at all Franklin schools. Organizers say their first lunch was such a success, and they now continue to do it every single month.

“The staff has seen the students become calmer, especially in the dining hall. It spills over into the classroom, where they are much calmer,” said Juanita Vicks, supervisor of transportation and nutritional services. “It also helps with social skills. They interact with each other more positively. They get the concept of taking the food and passing it to the person next to them.”

The food every month changes, but is always served family-style. The cafeteria tables are also decorated to fit a certain theme — a small detail that has a big impact on students.

“The way they have the tables with the flowers and tablecloths, it makes it feel more welcome. It makes me feel like they appreciate us a lot,” said sophomore Richard Meabs.

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