Frederick Needs Longer Lunches

Thirty minutes is not enough for our students. Here’s why.

Makenzie Carpenter-Sais, Staff writer

Picture yourself in line at a Qdoba—it’s lunchtime, and you’re starving and tired from three hours of school (or more). The line is long, full of other Frederick students just as hungry as you. Finally, you get the chance to order some food. But then, you come to realize that you only have 15 minutes until the next class starts. You need to pay, eat, drive back, and get inside the building before the bell rings and you get another tardy. You sweat, as you know that Prom is in the balance if you get a tardy.

You rush out the door and hit the road as quickly as possible. Only one problem—traffic. Everyone in line ahead of you had the same thought, and now Colorado and Birch are both packed. At last, after a long drive back to the school parking lot, you stumble into class… 10 minutes late. Your teacher glares and scolds you for being tardy once again. You also bring uneaten food in the classroom because you never had the chance to eat it with the commute in the first place, and if your teacher is like many in the building, food and drink are not allowed in class.

This is no exaggeration: over the past two weeks, I have known at least one different person who has had the same experience. The issue isn’t that teens are irresponsible or that we can’t keep track of time: it’s that Frederick High only has 30-minute lunches. Many upperclassmen students enjoy leaving the school, getting some fresh air, and going out to a fast food restaurant while others are content to stay and enjoy their lunch at school while socializing and catching up with some friends. But our lack of a decent lunchtime affects those that are off-campus and on, as we all need just a little more time than half an hour.

Sophomore Analeah Quintana states the problem well: “Longer lunches definitely should be a thing since lunches are only thirty minutes. How are you gonna eat in the time given without having to down all your food–especially if you leave. If you go anywhere, you won’t get the chance to eat it and you have to bring it back to the school.”

The main issue with our short lunchtime is a matter of how far fast food joints are from the school. It typically takes between four and six minutes to get out of the school parking lot. The closest McDonald’s is seven to ten minutes away, depending on traffic. The drive back is also seven minutes and it takes at least three minutes to get back in the building and to class. That’s around twenty-three minutes for a trip to Mickey D’s–and that doesn’t account for waiting in line, ordering food, receiving the food, and eating the food.

Even for students that stay at school for lunch, they sometimes have to wait through ten-minute long lines to get to the kitchen. While this gives most students twenty minutes to actually eat, most of that time is just eating. While it’s true that students get a chance to talk and socialize, there isn’t much time to just sit and relax. Students are also expected to use take time out of their lunch if they need to talk to a counselor, go to the office, or even go to the bathroom–all of this takes away from eating time.

What does this all lead to? Missing class. Some students are tardy because they went out to grab food, but others miss class when they leave to use the bathroom that they couldn’t use during lunch. Still others may be in the classroom but are missing class because they are focusing on eating their lunch as quickly as possible at their desk or are out of their desk at the end of class and by the door, trying to be the first one in the parking lot.

There’s also the issue of food in the classrooms. Many teachers in the building do not allow eating in class for pretty legitimate reasons. It’s unsafe to eat in a science class or art class because of the chemicals and materials being used. You can spill and damage equipment in a technology class. You could easily choke if eating in a music or PE class. This means that students have essentially missed their lunch and are trying to work hungry, which as we’ve learned from Snickers commercials is bad. Hunger can cause an increase in students being tired or grouchy and a decrease in focus. If a teacher does allow a student to eat in class, it causes a distraction (especially if the food has a strong smell) and makes the classrooms dirtier.

These are some the reasons why several teachers support making lunch longer at FHS. After all, they eat lunch too, and often have to deal with the issues a short lunch causes students. English teacher Dr. Mary Quantz told us, “We should have longer lunches, especially since we have an open campus and people go to lunch. It’s hard to get back in time for that. If we had a closed campus–I don’t know. I still think an hour is a nice break from the intensity of the day, and it’s just a chance for teachers to get themselves reset and a chance for students to get themselves reset.” 

Students are well aware that they need this reset time. Senior Adriane Vigil quotes, “Social interaction is super good for you. We do a bunch of school the first 4 hours of the day and then we only have 30 minutes left just to eat, and barely have enough time to talk to anybody. I believe we should have longer lunches because we can interact better with others.”

There is an easy solution to this problem–take time out of classes. Each class at Frederick High is supposedly 90 minutes, but two classes have an extra five minutes (second block and last block) which makes each of those classes 95 minutes. Those extra ten minutes can easily go to lunch. That gives us 40 minutes–if we shave a minute off each passing period, we can get to 45. Without making radical changes to our our schudule, we can give everyone 15 more minutes in the middle of the day.

While many students at Frederick High have different outtakes on having longer lunches or not. Students and some teachers agree that lunch is an important part of the day to refresh, reset, and get some food in their stomach. As well as agreeing that longer lunches give students and teachers time to prepare and focus for the rest of the day.