Stop the Fourth Lunch Crunch

Clarissa Corey-Bey ‘14 | Staff Writer 

I remember the long wait for the lunch bell my freshman year. Nearly every class, my growling stomach would scatter my concentration. I had the legendary Mr. O teaching me English fifth period, but it didn’t stop the seconds from dragging by until the blessed bell dismissed us to third lunch.

Until this school year, the longest wait a student would experience before they could eat again was third lunch, but with the implementation of a fourth lunch period starting at 12:54 PM, students are eating later than ever before. According to administration, the new four lunch system was supposed to alleviate long food lines and make the cafeteria less crowded.

The change is having unintended side effects. Many students and teachers aren’t used to the long wait for lunch. They are finding it more difficult to focus during class time. A study conducted by the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management in 2002 concluded that there is a direct correlation between how well students can focus and the last time they ate.

Some teachers are even allowing students to snack during classes stuck with the fourth lunch, to help improve focus and cope with the wait. They’ve realized it’s just too long to be waiting for lunch.

Another unintended consequence of fourth lunch is the decreased amount of time students have to eat. Lunch periods are now only 32 minutes long, and this does not provide much time for students to travel to the cafeteria and wait in line if they purchase food from the dining service. According to research conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership the American Academy of Family Physicians, the average high school student needs about 24 minutes to socialize and consume their food. This leaves just eight minutes to go to lockers, get to the cafeteria and wait in lines.

Ultimately,I applaud our administrators for heeding the cries of the students who got caught in the crowded lunch lines. But this fourth lunch crunch is not the answer to the problem.

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