Why Longer School Lunch Periods Should Be the Norm

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Nikita Gounder, Staff Writer

   Last Friday on December 13, 2019, during the teachers luncheon, students had an extended lunch schedule which meant a fifty five minutes lunch period. It was almost surprising how much time we had. Students had time to eat lunch leisurely, have interesting conversations and even play a game of mini soccer—something we never had time for before. All of this was possible because each class period was shortened by three minutes. That’s it. Only three minutes and we get a fifty five minute lunch to wind down and actually take a break from stress inducing tests and homework. While simply stating that having a longer lunch makes me happier might not be a good enough reason to implement longer lunches year-round (though it should), there are proven statistics that might change your mind. 

   An LA Times article written by science and medicine editor Karen Kaplan analyzed the eating habits of multiple elementary and middle school students in Boston found that the more schools increased lunchtime, the more kids were willing to eat healthier (fruits, vegetables, and milk). This is due to the common occurrence that when a school has only about thirty minutes for lunch, it takes about fifteen of those minutes for kids to get their lunches from the cafeteria or their lockers and find a place to sit. Then they only have about fifteen minutes left to eat, which isn’t really anytime to do anything.

   According to this article, students prioritized what they were going to eat based on how much time they had. They usually started with entrees and the more time they had, the more they finished eating. With only a twenty minute lunch they finished about 64% of their entrees and there was a positive correlation between the two.

   While longer lunches mean healthier children physically, it can also mean healthier children mentally. From a personal perspective, lunchtime is the only time of the day I have to unwind and take a break. Rushing from lesson to lesson, trying to complete all of my homework and cramming for tests means that I don’t even have a snack break (don’t tell me three minute “nutrition” is enough). 

   Thirty minutes is not enough for anything other than eating when in reality it should be time to eat and take a legitimate break. I remember back in elementary and middle school when we could play basketball, go to the library, or simply walk around for awhile. Why can’t we continue doing that? Having three fewer minutes per class won’t kill anybody, instead it will give us something to look forward to everyday.