For high school students, lunch period has been one of the most expendable on their schedules, with many skipping lunch to cram in more classes or leave for work. How students and schools handle the lunch issue varies, according to a recent article in The Verdict, the student newspaper at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, in Bayside, Queens. The article, below, has been lightly edited.
By Rafina Rahman
Benjamin N. Cardozo High School
The average high school student spends six to seven hours a day in school. However, some of those students have no scheduled lunch period, leaving them famished throughout the day.
In elementary and middle school, lunch is guaranteed and programmed into every student’s schedule. However, in high school, because of scheduling conflicts, lunch is not an option for every student.
Lunch is served from period three until period eight. “We serve 200-300 students per period,” said Susan Marroquin, the cafeteria manager. While most students look forward to their lunch period, others have different opinions.
“The lunchroom is mad crowded and it’s such a hassle getting through the doors,” said Safa Sarker, a sophomore.
“I like having lunch because the school lunch is good,” said Zaid Ahmed, also a sophomore.
Students are only permitted to eat in the cafeteria if their program shows that they have lunch during a particular period, and they are not allowed to leave the cafeteria with lunch trays unless they are service monitors that period.
Most freshmen have a scheduled lunch period. It is in the upper grades that a lunch period is sometimes eliminated. However, “Getting complaints from parents about their child not having a lunch period is very seldom. We can change their program and add a lunch, if requested,” said Sarah Lui, guidance counselor.
According to Barbara Nunziata, the parent coordinator, a student can bring lunch from home and eat it during a class depending on the teacher’s rules.
“I allow students to eat lunch in class because they are old enough to clean up after themselves,” said Phil Ackerman, a social studies teacher.
On the other hand, not all teachers are lenient about allowing lunch to be eaten during class.
English teacher Binnie Sommer said, “Students are not allowed to eat food in the class because we have mice and roaches in the building. I once had a mouse running around during a class and it was very chaotic.”
Some students, mostly seniors, don’t have a lunch period because they have a short school day regardless, and adding lunch would give them a longer schedule.
“Not having a lunch period allows you to get out earlier, and if you have hardcore classes you can get what you want done faster,” said Deval Mehta, a senior.
Other seniors who have jobs after school prefer getting home early. “If I had lunch in school, I would cry,” said Max Resetar, a senior. He gets home at 12:30 p.m. and prefers “having my own lunch at home before I have to go to work or do homework.”
Lacking lunch concerns newcomers and their parents.
Sophomore Antonella Castellano provides another student’s perspective, “The disadvantage of not having a lunch period is that you have to eat in class and people give you weird stares.”
“Lunch is an essential part of every child’s diet because it helps keep the student energized throughout the day,” said Shermin Ahmed, the mother of Safa Sarker.
While some students have no lunch periods, others have more than one.
“It’s really annoying that I have double lunch because I just sit in the dirty lunchroom for two periods straight with nothing to do. I can’t even finish my homework since my lunch falls at the end of the day,” an anonymous sophomore says.
In high school, students with a lunch period should take advantage of the opportunity. Changing the amount of food you intake throughout the day or skipping meals can affect a student’s overall health. It can cause harmful metabolic changes in the body.
Eating lunch can make a student more active and focused throughout the day. With approximately 4,000 students, there isn’t a perfect recipe for lunch, but we can at least start with providing a more flexible and practical alternative.