When should Mealtime be?

Hey there, as we approach the build season, the leadership for my team is considering what our general schedule for meetings should be like. We are at our school from 3:30-6:30 three days a week, and we have historically aimed to have mealtime around 5:00-5:30, usually resulting in losing all our momentum, and people chatting and eating for the remainder of the meeting.

While this lack of motivation and drive is definitely not only caused by the mealtime itself, we thought that it might be a good band-aid solution to eat at either the beginning or end or the meeting, to keep people on-track during the meeting time, while giving us an opportunity to discuss progress and goals.

I was just wondering if any other teams out there had similar issues, and could give us some ideas or direction. Thanks!

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IMO, if you’re only meeting for 3 hours at a time, don’t plan a meal. Especially where your meetings are ending at 6:30.

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Usually, we do longer meetings on Fridays, and during that time, we work from 3-6.30 and then eat a meal provided by the parents from 6.30 to 7.30 during that time, we use it for discussion of other logistics and robot stuff that needs to be discussed and completed.

If they really get hungry, I would just have snacks, laid out to keep them from starving till they get food elsewhere.

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Our build season has been adjusted for this very same reason. Its hard for both students AND adult mentors to get back into the full productive grind, especially when we’ve all put in so many hours in addition to our personal lives.
We have meals on the weekends for our team, and we now time it where its close to the end of the work scheduled time (except Sat lunch). In general, if we have meals, we cleanup the shop and our areas after we eat, then end it for the day.

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Work sessions 4 - 6:30 M/T/Th with meal at 6:30. This works better than having a meal break up the work session. Saturdays we meet 10-4 and no meal provided. Brown bag or go get something. We find this schedule makes us more productive and the meal together at the end of the work session is a nice social occasion. Good for team cohesiveness.

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We meet from 3-8 twice a week (actual day switches from year to year) we aim to have a meal around 6pm usually delivery or takeout. We are generally pretty good about getting people back on task after mealtimes. We usually go to a separate area for food and people naturally come back somewhat quickly, though sometimes we move them along more.

It helps if they have a specific task to do or if you stop them in the middle of a task, so they get back and know what they are doing. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know how exactly to contribute, which can cause members to not want to return.

Maybe it’s just my team, but in general people are excited to get back and we have difficulty even getting everyone to take a break for food.

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Generally I’d agree with this, but in a lot of situations it is a huge benefit to some students if a meal is being provided at school. I think that it could be pretty reasonable to provide a meal at the very end of your meeting for kids to be able to take home. Unsure of what your team usually provides for meals, but take home containers are a reasonable expense so kids have the option of taking food home if they can’t wait around eating at the meeting. If the meal is easy for a kid to pack before heading out, this could be a good option to not lose momentum in a meeting.

Something like this
https://www.amazon.com/greensight-Compostable-Compartment-Disposable-Biodegradable/dp/B0C49G4SHR/ref=mp_s_a_1_6_sspa?crid=3DNCJBI9TOYBU&keywords=bulk+takeout+containers&qid=1704157476&sprefix=bulk+takeou%2Caps%2C104&sr=8-6-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9waG9uZV9zZWFyY2hfbXRm&psc=1

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1293 runs until 6 on Saturdays to duck this very question.

We’re also prone to pronouncements like “be in the hotel lobby at 7:30 AM with breakfast in your stomach”, so as to avoid doubt.

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We do meals 5:30pm M/T/Th/F and ~12pm/7pm Saturday. The 5:30 time on weekdays aligns well with mentors getting off work so they can participate. Parents rotate providing meals for weekdays, the Saturday lunch meal is usually leftovers, and for the Saturday evening meal is usually loosely-organized carpooled eating out.

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Mealtime? Seems a little unnecessary when you’re only meeting from 3:30-6:30 three days a week. Our team meets 4-7 M-F, plus the occasional 4 or 5 hour session on Saturdays during build season and we don’t do meals. We do have parent-provided snacks and drinks in abundance for anyone to grab when they feel the need (teens need fuel at a rate us older folks can only vaguely remember experiencing), but that’s it during shop time. We do organize team dinners and lunches at competitions and occasionally at other times as social gatherings, but we don’t sacrifice shop time for them.

Again, adding to what @Strategic said, if you’re meeting for only three hours a day, don’t bother. My team utilizes five-minute snack breaks, but depending on the discipline and entire organization (as well as size) of your team, I wouldn’t recommend having meal times, especially when you want work time, and you have three hours, or three days to work with. Unless you’re going to pull a crazy 8 am - 8 pm workday on a Saturday during Build Season, don’t bother.

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Yeah, meals during a 3 hour meeting seem unnecessary If you were doing it because the school provided them or students might miss a meal altogether otherwise, I’d finish working, clean up, then eat.

We meet for 6 hours on weekends, so we have a lunch break between the two 3 hour meetings. Most people leave for lunch, but we make sure there are mentors around for any students who want to stay. Previously we met from 10-1 and 2:30-5:30, but we are shortening the lunch break to 1 hour this season.

You guys are getting meals? We meet three days a week. Monday Wednesday and Friday after school until 8pm and Saturday 10-5 (usually 10-2 unless we really need the time). Only time we ever have team provided meals is on Saturdays if a parent or mentor volunteers to buy pizza. Only time we designate for food is the Saturdays where we break for lunch. It’s honestly not that bad. My friends and I brought a protein bar or something similar to snack on. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little and be a little hungry if you want to hit your deadlines. Also food costs for 30-40 students 4 times a week adds up.

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Seems to match the general consensus, but I’ll add another datapoint. We meet from 6-9pm whenever we have weekday meetings (generally something like M/W/F, but that may expand as needed throughout the build season), and don’t provide meals. We do typically have some snacks available though. Weekend meetings (typically Saturdays, but we’ll throw in a Sunday as needed) are usually ~10-5 and will include lunch. Toward the end of the build season, we may add dinner on weekends as well if we stay later.

General rule of thumb, if the meeting is more than ~4-5 hours, some form of food will be provided.

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Our team is from 4:30 - 8:30 and we provide meals from 6:00 - 6:30 I know its hard to switch meeting times but the longer nights make it feel so so much better. TBH you have a short enough practice time where snacks feel the most helpful, not a full meal time. If you want meals to be valuable (and they are for the team bonding) I recommend longer times :slight_smile:

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Not sure if you intended to reply to me or the OP. We have reasons for the times we’ve chosen to meet, so longer meetings generally aren’t possible on a regular basis. (we have a hard enough time getting parents to pitch in for just saturday lunches, much less doing every weekday meeting as well)

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Yup! Meant for op, sorry dude! But yeah, changing meeting times isn’t easy at all.

This seems unhealthy.

A wise man once said:

I get that providing meals at meetings isn’t something every team can do/wants to do/should do. But the reason not to provide food—let alone pause for a meal break—should not be because you can’t give up the 30 minutes and meet your deadline. That’s wild.

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I’ve been sniped, but @Jansenj07 I also want to suggest that you take a look at some of the rest of the quoted thread and point out that for some people working all day without lunch/a break isn’t going to be a little sacrifice, it’s going to cause them a medical emergency and calling it a little sacrifice misrepresents that and makes it seem like those people aren’t willing to make little sacrifices which will creates a culture hostile towards them.

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On days when we have long meetings (2-9) usually we try to eat around 5:30/6ish, though most nights it’s not an organized meal. Occasionally some students opt to go to the deli earlier to eat. For others they choose to eat whatever their parents bring them whenever they finish doing their work. Some leave for dinner and come back an hour later. We’ve tried getting parents more involved in bringing group meals in but in recent years participation has been minimal.
Fridays we generally order pizzas, and weekend meetings (9-2) are almost always accompanied by bagels from us mentors. Every other day is pretty much a free for all.