Increasing Student Lunchtime Leads to Increase in Health and Happiness

Nelymar Zayas, Staff Writer

At East Ridge High School, the majority of the student population walks to the cafeteria, goes through the lunch line, and uses the rest of their time to eat their food at lightning speed while still giving themselves time to socialize. When talking to members of the student body, most agreed that the time given to eat our lunch is not nearly enough. 

“Lines get really long and sometimes people don’t even get time to eat their lunch”, said student Winona Scott, a senior at East Ridge. “It’s not fair to the students who stood in line for so long to just have to throw their lunch away to get to class”.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (the AAP) recommends that students get at least 20 minutes for lunch— to sit down and eat— not including the time spent in line for food and time not spent eating. East Ridge gives us, the students, a total of 30 minutes to walk from our classrooms to the cafeteria, get our lunch, and eat it while still expecting us to be on time for 5th or 6th period, depending on what lunch you have. This is not including the time it takes students to walk from their classroom to the cafeteria, going through the lunch line can take anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes, leaving the students who get their food last to have to eat it in about 10 minutes if they don’t wish to be late for their next class. 

When you subtract the time that is not spent actually sitting down and eating your food, the school gives us much less time to eat than what is recommended by the AAP. This may explain many of the health issues that America faces today, such as obesity. It has been proven over and over again how eating slowly improves digestion, supports the consumption of smaller portions, and increases water consumption during meals. When students are forced to eat fast due to the limited time they have, their body cannot register when they are full and tell them to stop eating before it is too late, resulting in sluggishness and decreased classroom performance and efficiency when these students get back to class from lunch. 

Students who arrive at lunch within the first 1 to 2 minutes of lunch tend to have no complaints about their cafeteria experience since they have their lunch in their hands before a line even forms. Because of this, these students have most of the 30 minutes to sit down, eat, and socialize, thus having no complaints. 

“I tend to get my food, eat it, and still have time to do other things like talk with friends or work for a class” says junior Joshua Peredes, who arrives at lunch within the first two minutes of the bell ringing.

If all students had approximately 25 minutes to sit down and enjoy their food alongside the company of their peers, classroom performance would greatly improve due to students being able to take their time eating with much less rush, resulting in little to no sluggishness. 

By just increasing the lunchtime from 30 minutes to 40-45 minutes, students would be given the opportunity to go through the line without feeling like they have to cut in front of fellow students to get their lunch on time. All students would have the ability to walk to the cafeteria in an orderly fashion without having to rush, they will digest their food properly, and the overall attitude of students will increase in afternoon classes. It’s interesting how something as simple as 10 short extra minutes in lunch can result in a happier, healthier school.