The Need for a Longer Lunch
By Catherine Van Weele
The lunch period at Novato High is only 35 minutes everyday, which is not a sufficient amount of time for students to enjoy a complete meal.
On average, high schools nationwide have approximately 30 minutes for lunch, according to Public School Review. Many local high schools, including Tamalpais, Redwood, Drake, Terra Linda, and San Rafael, all have 40 minute lunches.
“In the East Bay it was longer and in Southern California it was at least 45 minutes. I would probably say lunch was about 45 minutes when I was in high school,” said Novato High principal Matt Baldwin. “I was actually really shocked when I got here and it was 35 minutes, so I get why people would want more time.”
According to an article from NPR.com, experts recommend at least 20 minutes of eating time per meal. Studies have also shown that students eat healthier when given more time for lunch.
Novato High students often do not have enough time to eat their food, especially the students who go off campus for lunch. By the time students get to their car, drive to their destination and purchase their food, there is hardly enough time to eat since they still have to drive back to school before the lunch period ends. When arriving to school, students without parking spots are forced to find a spot on the street.
“I feel like lunch is not long enough,” said junior Ashley Peach. “I usually will grab anything that is fast and easy but I do think I get enough to eat.”
Due to the time constraint, students may not eat enough food or may not finish eating their food. There are teachers at Novato High who permit eating during class, however there are also many teachers who do not allow students to finish eating their lunches.
“My sixth period teacher doesn’t let me eat in class which sucks because I can never finish eating my food,” said sophomore Ben Dailor.
If one of the newly-proposed schedules for next year goes through, lunch may be extended for about an extra 5 minutes. That would make lunch 40 minutes, which is on par with other high schools throughout Marin.
“I think the only way [the new schedule] could impact the lunch time is by possibly making it longer. Teachers have been advocating for that,” said Baldwin. “I would be in favor in adding at least five minutes to lunch. I’ll be honest, I don't think it is a top priority with our committee, but I think it would be good for everyone involved.”
Some students tend to drive more recklessly when leaving and returning to campus as there is not a lot of time, making students feel rushed. An extended lunch period would allow for students to eat a solid, complete meal without rushing.
“Hopefully students will slow down when out of the parking lot and going to wherever they're going,” said Baldwin.
However, if additional time is added to lunch, then that time will have to be added somewhere else on the schedule, such as staying in class for an extra few minutes.
“I would prefer lunch to be at least ten minutes longer, “ Peach said. “I would be willing to be in school longer if it means we are able to have a longer lunch because I won't feel as rushed to get to class.”
Not all students would be willing to stay for an extra few minutes.
“I think lunch is already long enough,” said junior Priana Aquino. “I’d rather just get out of school early.”
There is currently no state policy regarding the duration of high school lunch periods but it is clear that the length of lunch needs to be extended for high school students.