Understanding the lunch policies

Lunch is a period most students enjoy; however, it’s the shortest as well. While the current schedule has been in place for many years, some students and staff have ideas on ways to change it, while some love it the way it is.

One issue in which people have a lot of agreement on is the size of the lunchroom, especially during the peak lunch periods (4, 6, and 8). “The lunchroom is really crowded,” said Christine Kouria, sophomore.

Students may sit outside in the courtyard during their lunchtime weather permitting.

“I typically eat out in the courtyard. I like that it’s quiet outside. It can get pretty loud inside,” said Gavin Chami, sophomore. “I would definitely appreciate more outside tables because I like sitting with my specific group of friends.” 

The current set up in the court yard includes less than 10 tables with only four seats at each table. Additionally, students can only eat outside if the weather permits it.

“When it’s hot out, I sometimes go outside to eat,” Kouria said. “But if it’s raining/wet or snowing, eating outside is not an option.”

Another issue students have is with the cafeteria lines for food. “The lines reach out to the gym… I always end up getting my food late [after lunch begins],” Kouria said.

To avoid this, students can opt to bring a lunch from outside of school. They can either bring it from home, or pick it up at the front office after a parent or someone else drops it off for them. “I typically bring a brown bag lunch from home,” Chami said.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that a number of students either prefer to eat food from the cafeteria, or have no other choice. Some students choose to take an early bird, forcing them to go to school earlier than 8 a.m.

“I usually get food from the lines at school,” Kouria said. “If I have more time in the morning, I would pack lunch from home.”

However, one of the more common suggestions included extending the lunch time. Lunch periods (periods four to eight) are 25 minutes long, half the length of a normal period.

“It takes so much time to get your food, then get down and relax,” said Ms. Lesley Nagle, English teacher. “Twenty-five minutes is not long enough for that, and I wish it could be longer for students.”

However increasing the time allotted for lunch would have its faults as well because longer lunch periods would expand the overall day for students. The only way to not expand the school day and expand the lunch periods would be to shorten the academic periods, but that would take away from the learning of the school day.

Another possibility is to have an open campus. An open campus styled lunch allows students during their lunch period to leave the school and eat outside of the school grounds.

“[An open campus] definitely poses an extra responsibility with students, and I think that, as high school students, we would be able to handle that responsibility,” Chami said. “I would probably go to somewhere like Dips & Dogs in Hinsdale, possibly Franks on First.”

Central had been an open campus many years ago; however, due to time restraints and safety, the policy changed.

“When I was in high school, my senior year, you were allowed to go out for lunch, and I remember that was a highlight of my day,” Nagle said. Her high school had 50 minute lunch periods. “I think it would help students by giving them a mental break to decompress a little bit, especially if you’re a student who’s here very early [or] really late; it’s just a long time to be in one place.”

If the school were to go to an open campus policy, the lunch period would certainly have to become longer and that would affect the overall schedule. 

“Considering there’s not a lot of food options close to school, there’s not enough time to go out and get food. [Having an open campus] is really unreasonable,” Kouria said. “The idea of having an open campus gives a lot of independence to students, which can be a good thing because that’s what students need in the real world. However, not all kids would use it responsibly and they could probably abuse it by ditching school.”

The school board has not yet commented on what it thinks about the lunch policies.