Parent-of-four Amy Mevorach had a grievance to air when she called in to Boston Public Radio.

Two of her kids had returned to full-time, in-person learning, but their respective schools — Natick’s Wilson Middle School and Lilja Elementary — hadn’t been serving lunch until the end of the day, a little before 2 p.m. Instead, she explained, kids were given two 10-minute outdoor snack breaks, socially distanced and spaced throughout the school day.

“It’s hard,” she said on GBH airwaves last month. “What can you give them that’s substantial, that’s healthy” in that amount of time?

As schools begin to welcome an increasing number of students back for full time, in-person learning, educators must consider a number of factors in trying to keep everyone safe. They have to monitor constant masking, properly ventilating the indooor air and maintaining a three-foot distance in classrooms. In Massachusetts, schools are also juggling pool testing to stay ahead of potential coronavirus outbreaks.

But one of the trickiest balancing acts has been lunchtime. Thirty-minute periods of mask-free eating can pose a risk for students and staff if they aren't set up properly. With Massachusetts middle schoolers returning to in-person learning full-time, mealtime systems are being put to the test.

Anne Marie Stronach, a senior administrator in the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and a member of Gov. Charlie Baker’s school reopening task force, played a role in helping superintendents navigate the tightrope of safe lunches while minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19.

“We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to keep our students safe," Stronach said. "So it’s important that we keep that distance, which is somewhat problematic when you have your entire population back into school."

Stronach declined to comment on Natick’s lunch system, but she said the state is not recommending that schools push the meal to the end of the day. Instead, she touted the success of schools that have been able to work within their constraints — for example, by creating cafeterias out of classrooms and gymnasiums.

Elsewhere in the state, districts have found other ways to deal with pandemic lunches. In Fall River, Superintendent Matt Malone said they’ve opted to double the number of lunch sessions and invested in half-sized tables to help keep kids a full six feet apart. In the eight months the district has been operating full time, he said he's yet to see any coronavirus spread attributed to cafeterias — a testament, he said, to the lunch and custodial staff who distribute meals and sanitize everything after each session.

“It’s a military precision, and it’s a lot of work,” he said. “Our people are working around the clock."

This is a huge, herculean lift — let’s not kid ourselves," he added.

At other times, Malone said, students will opt to eat meals in classrooms, as long as they're able to keep that six feet of distance.

"It’s a burden on the teachers," he admitted. "But, you know, we’d rather feed kids than not feed kids, right? So we’ve been splitting rooms in half, half the kids move to the other side of the room, the other kids eat without their mask on."

In Newton Public Schools, students eat pre-packaged grab-and-go lunches during school hours wherever they can find six feet of space. Stephen Marshall, the district’s director of business services, oversees much of the decision-making when it comes to mealtimes.

Because Newton doesn’t have the resources to provide each student with a spaced out desk for meals, he said kids are eating their lunch not only in cafeterias, but also gyms, classrooms, and tents set up outisde in the fall and spring. Elementary school students lunch in what Marshall called “picnic-style,” eating on blankets they bring from home.

“As a kindergarten, first grade, younger elementary school student, they enjoy that — they like just kind of sitting down,” he said. “As an adult, I think if I asked a group of teachers to pull out a blanket and sit on the floor they might look at me crazy, but for kids this didn’t seem like that far off of a regular, typical day.”

Back in Natick, for Amy Mevorach, the reality of picking up her kids from school and seeing them hungry leaves her with the feeling that their needs are being overlooked.

“When they come home, they’re hungry,” she said in an interview with GBH News. “As soon as they get in the car, it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m starving, I’m starving’ … I think in the overall plan, their needs are not really being met.”

Natick Public Schools declined a request for comment.

Juliana Cohen, an expert in child nutrition in school environments, called Natick's decision to delay lunch a smart strategy as long as parents are able to provide their kids with substantive snacks that avoid processed sugars and refined grains.

“When we’re relying on just snacks, that’s when we get into trouble,” said Cohen, who also teaches nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Because the variability of what kids may have access to is gonna be vastly different, that can have really important implications for their ability to pay attention, learn, and not have a meltdown when they come home at the end of the day — because they’re so hungry, basically.”

Factoring in all the complications of reopening, Mevorach said she can understand how this particular issue might have been difficult to solve and gave the staff at Natick Public Schools credit for pulling off reopening safely.

“Everybody’s adapting to the situation,” she said. “It’s like the Rubik’s Cube … it’s hard to get all the sides right.”