Lunch at 10 AM? No thank you

Early lunch periods leave students hungry and dissatisfied, should be changed


James Steinkamp

Students eat lunch in the cafeteria during their lunch periods, running from 10:20 through 12:30 at the Winnetka campus

As the first bell rings, I slowly stand up and groggily move toward the exit. Leaving first period after 80 minutes of notes and reading, I’m still barely awake. I, like many other students, feel as though I just got out of bed and have the full day ahead of me. Time for…lunch? 

The current lunch periods, specifically periods 2A and 6A, are too early.

Starting lunch too early is further a problem when most students have activities after school, creating a large gap in time between lunch and the next meal

For blue and green days respectively, lunch begins at 10:20 AM, and for many students, that window between 10:20 and 11:00 is the only opportunity to eat lunch. That’s a problem.

To me, lunch makes sense as a midday meal, a halfway point in the school day, when morning meets afternoon. With period A lunch, it feels like I just ate breakfast. Most students who eat something before school have a window between 7 and 8, so lunch at 10:20 is only a few hours after. 

Having lunch this early can lead some students to skip either lunch or breakfast altogether. This can be harmful for intuitive reasons: our bodies require fuel to function. As an example, data from the Cleveland Clinic has found that teens who eat breakfast before school perform better academically. 

If people aren’t hungry at lunch time, they might miss out on nutrients that will be critical later in the day for both school and afterschool activities. If they only feel like eating a little, fruits and vegetables could be what they leave out.

And while I recognize that not everyone can have the ideal lunch time due to the size of New Trier and need to spread out lunch times, it would make sense to shift the current hours. The Northfield times by contrast are more reasonable, starting at 11:30, 12:15, and ending at 1:00.

Starting lunch too early is further a problem when most students have activities after school, creating a large gap in time between lunch and the next meal.

According to the Board of Education, 88% of students reported participating in extracurricular activities in 2019, a number that remained similar throughout the decade. The vast majority of these activities—the largest group being athletics—take place after school. This means that it could be hours after the end of the school day that students will get another opportunity to eat. With lunch at 10:20, it could be eight or more hours before the chance for a meal comes again, a gap that is too large.

Northwestern Medicine recommends a window of about five hours between lunch and dinner. It might not be that realistic to meet given the reality of schedules, but starting lunch later would get people much closer to that target.

Not only is lunch crucial for nourishment, it can also serve as an important break in the day, a chance to be with friends and socialize. When lunch is too early, it’s hard to get the full impact of a break from the school day because it just started.

Others would prefer more consistency year-to-year and argue that changing the schedule again is a bad idea. But if the change is for the better, I don’t see a problem with it. Knowing the school, they’ll probably change the schedule again anyway, so we might as well make some changes for the better.

I don’t have the perfect solution, but I do know that the A lunch periods are too early. And it should be changed.