The average student reports spending one-third of the lunch period standing in line.
The average student reports spending one-third of the lunch period standing in line.

Let’s have lunch. If there’s time. Or food left.

February 28, 2022

Lunch is one of three meals in a day; one ought to be able to enjoy it and get the amount of food needed to help fuel the body and mind through the day. However at school, lunch can be stressful, time-consuming, and sometimes students simply don’t even get enough to eat.

In a poll sent to the 9-12 student body about the lunch experience with 25% of students responding, the majority of students said they spend 5-10 minutes in the lunch line each day. Taking that time out of a 30 minute lunch period means that the average eating time is restricted to 15-20 minutes. That’s only if one eats one serving. To get another serving, one must wait in line again.

As a result, the long and stressful lunch line also affects how much people eat. In the poll, 69.8% of the people said that they have skipped the hot lunch line to get something from the salad bar — a meal that isn’t substantial enough to fill growing teenagers. Worse than the wait, sometimes because of the length of the line, people decide to skip it altogether.

Lunch is a time to socialize and relax before the next class. How could people have this time for themselves when they barely have time to eat enough?

To add to the already long lunch line, budging makes it worse. According to the poll, people budge the line to join their friends, which makes the lunch line longer. Though this problem isn’t fully fixable, one can be more mindful and wait one or two more minutes instead of making everyone else’s lunch line experience longer. Also, there could be a way students be released from classes at staggered times. People closer to the lunchroom could get let out 2-3 minutes earlier than those farther away. School is already stressful enough; lunch shouldn’t add to that.

[SPA THINKS] What can be done to fix lunch?

In a poll sent to the 9-12 student body, a number of students shared opinions on what could make lunch a better experience. Here’s what they said:

SETH GREWE, 12: “Personally, I am not a picky eater, nor am I vegan. However, I do still feel strongly on the issue of what line is for what food. Every once in a while, there will be a lunch where one line is for, lets say, a vegan option and the other line is for a non vegan option. If I were vegan (which I am NOT) and went into the line which was serving the non vegan option, by the time I get up to the front of the line I would realize that I am in the wrong line. If I were vegan I would have missed at least 5 minutes of my lunch time waiting in the wrong line. If I were vegan (not vegan) and this happened to me, it doesn’t matter how well my day was going from before this point, my day would be ruined. A full factory reset of all good emotions from that day. Now, there is an easy solution to this problem. That solution is to put a sign at the beginning of the line which labels what line is for what food.”

PER JOHNSON, 12: “The lunch staff is doing a great job, the issue is the hordes of middle schoolers [still at late lunch] and the people who cut the line repeatedly and prevent the rest of us from eating with a reasonable amount of time.”

HANNAH BRASS, 11: “A lot of people budge to get to the second line to get seconds when most people haven’t gotten firsts and the line is super long, so we have to wait for even longer while they get seconds (and sometimes thirds). It’s okay if they want seconds, but they should wait in line like everyone else. It isn’t fair when I haven’t eaten in six hours and they ate five minutes ago.”

MAX SHAEFFER, 11: “There’s often food available during early lunch that’s gone without a trace by late lunch, which feels exasperating and unfair as someone with fewer options because of a schedule I can’t completely control and no way to guarantee certain foods will be left after early lunch.”

DYLAN TAN STEPHENSON, 11: “I don’t see a significant problem with the line; I understand everyone has to wait to eat. Most complaints I see are either non-serious or just out of annoyance. Yes, people budging in line is annoying, but I see why some people would choose to do so due to the staggering length of the line sometimes. It is incredibly annoying though when large groups of people budge in front even when the line is not all that long.”

JULIA TAYLOR, 9: “It’s hard to only have 10 minutes to eat, but have to keep going to classes all day long, then a 2-hour basketball practice after school. I am often hungry, tired, and this affects my performance in school. In addition to this, it’s unfortunate to realistically only have 10 min to eat, because then I don’t have time to be social or talk to friends during the lunch period.”

ANNIE ZHANG, 9: “I think it’s gotten much better with the length, so thanks to all the kitchen staff who made lunch available at earlier times to cut down the line. When coming from classes in the art and music wing, it takes a sec to get there so maybe we could leave class a minute or two earlier?”

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