Some High Schools Allow Students to Opt Out of Lunch for More Class Time

Apr 16, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Today's high school students have to face some serious obstacles when applying to college. With ballooning numbers of applications and fierce competition, educators and college counselors have long sung the praises of AP courses to stand out but for those students looking for an even bigger leg up on the competition, some high schools are allowing students to skip lunch in order to take additional classes.

According to several news reports, there are currently a handful of districts across the country are allowing students (with parental consent, of course) to forgo lunch to take another class. Translation: Participating students would typically have nine 42-minute periods without a break. Students in favor of skipping lunch say that the extra time allows them to pursue subjects they are passionate about – think: art or music – that they may not otherwise be able to fit in their schedules. But not everyone agrees with the option: School Nutrition Association spokeswoman Diane Pratt-Heavner insisted that students who don’t sit down to eat a healthy midday meal will not have the attention span and level of detail they need to succeed in school. "Wolfing down a meal between classes is not promoting a healthy lifestyle," she added. (For more on this story, click here.)

If this was an option at your school, would you opt out of lunch to fit in an extra class? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Comments (27)

Miriam K  on  9/2/2015 3:25:33 PM commented:

Last year I had two days a week without lunch. This upcoming year I have a 10 period schedule with no lunch breaks ever. I decided that I don't need lunch, and I was more passionate about the four electives- AP European history, Art, and scientific technology- than i was about socializing. I get to eat in my classes, so my meals are still healthy pre-packed meals.

Tiffany L  on  5/15/2014 3:30:26 PM commented:

If only my high school offered it, I would jump at the opportunity. Opting out of lunch for a class seems ridiculous to most people and I honestly enjoy the break in between the often long school days; however its not like I eat at my school anyways since school lunch really isn't great and I think i can survive being less social. I would love the extra 42 minutes to be used on other classes or even participate in more clubs and get more involved. The idea seems awesome to me, but unfortunately my county wouldnt be able to do that thanks to block scheduling.

Stevie B  on  4/29/2014 2:29:25 PM commented:

I wasn't allowed to do this, but I would have chosen it in a heartbeat. My high school's lunches were often inedible, so I didn't eat much anyway.

Conor K  on  4/28/2014 12:12:18 AM commented:

As someone who did not have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement courses, I would definitely take that opportunity. As far as nutrition is concerned, I would like to think that students should be able to eat in the class rooms and then have to clean up after class or have a detriment to their "participation," grade.

Tiffany M  on  4/27/2014 4:02:37 PM commented:

I have opted out of having a lunch period several times.I have been in high school for four years and have had to do so for different reasons. One of the main reasons was to AVOID having a 9period schedule. In a typical high school my situation would probably not occur, but in my case I was faced with having all my core classes (science, math, English, spanish and gym) as well as an elective course (band) and a double period CTE course. Having to remove lunch seemed to be the only way I could avoid being overwhelmed with classes. The fact that I wasalso trying to avoid being placed in a 1st period class was also another reason. First period starts at 7:20 in the morning, and while this may seem doable for those who lived closer to the school, my daily commute usually took an hour an a half. So leaving my house at about 5:30 was completely out of the question. Snacking throughout the day was an alternative I gladly took and this worked for me. I have more than enough credits now so I really appreciate that option.

Allycia G  on  4/24/2014 9:54:06 PM commented:

Ok ya the idea is a interesting one, its not really necessary. High school is really not that bad, my senior year I only needed 1 credit to graduate which gave me plenty of elective class time. Plus its not that hard to get into a decent school. I go into the Unversity of Colorado in Boulder with filling out the application the day before its due. I am doing fine in college as a junior with a major in Architecture with mostly A's. Its not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I admire the work ethic but learn to take some time for yourself and get out to do thinks. There are better ways to learn then sitting in a class room, for me it was working with habitat for humanity. And a break is necessary for someone to take on that much without the stress becoming too much and them breaking down from it.

Emma K  on  4/24/2014 5:27:15 PM commented:

Although I see the importance of having a ninth-period to be able to improve upon and excel at what us students have a passion for, it is not healthy to not eat lunch. I myself already do not eat lunch until 1:30, and everyone at my school can agree that at that time they are starving. It's difficult to focus in class without a lunch, and wolfing it down within 6 minutes along with actually arriving to class is not the way to go... unless the class allowed the student to eat in class at the same time as work. This would be understandable.

Salma G  on  4/24/2014 8:24:02 AM commented:

I have my credits done; for those students that want to complete or do more credits than they already have, then thay can give it a try. But, there are those who do sports, have tons of AP classes and have school club activities to attend to.... it'll be hard on them. I don't agree in skiping lunch.

Michael D  on  4/23/2014 5:41:08 PM commented:

While I understand the desire for students to take additional classes to get a head academically, I think it is not something that should be encouraged or an option. It is unhealthy for them not to have the break and doesn't allow them to develop socially. Students, whether they choose to eat or not, need the break in the day to relax and interact with their peers; this is an important part of education process as well. All too often we see students who get so stressed out with the competitiveness and difficulty of the classes they are taking they burn out or feel they aren't living up to expectations; some will become depressed, grades will suffer and then in my area, harm themselves.

Felipe R  on  4/23/2014 2:28:17 PM commented:

As a sophomore in high school I am not struggling to find the amount of credits to graduate because I am overwhelmed with credits in the Arts Department. Despite this, I still need to take some classes to fulfill CSU's A-G entrance requirements. If this was an option at my school, I would definitely take the opportunity. I always eat snacks throughout the day, so ehen I hit lunch, I am not hungry and just spend a meaningless hour doing nothing. Its an optional thing and parents as well as students would be aware of the situation and risk factors, so everyone should keep to themselves, right?

Deyanna D  on  4/23/2014 2:09:41 PM commented:

I think it is great and bad at the same time. I think it is good because it can help some students really out with school but at the same time its bad because school and extra activities is already stressful for some students now.

Anthony L  on  4/23/2014 9:33:48 AM commented:

As someone that did exactly this in high school, I would absolutely do this. If I had to go back and choose again, I still would opt out.

Susie C  on  4/23/2014 6:11:26 AM commented:

I don't like this. Lunch and nutrition are important. I completely agree with Ms. Pratt-Heavner.

Joey T  on  4/23/2014 2:07:19 AM commented:

I would not opt out lunch to fit an extra class in school. For one, continuously going through a regular school day without any break can leave a student physically and mentally exhausted, which discourages them from paying attention and doing homework later in the day. Skipping lunch is not good for the human body and while it is great to academically challenge yourself, your health should be of higher importance than taking extra classes to look good on college applications.

Hailey A  on  4/22/2014 10:10:10 PM commented:

Considering the fact that students already have hectic schedules, lunch time is a chance for students to get a break. Also, I agree with Diane Pratt-Heavner in that students should be able to eat a healthy meal at lunch with out the feeling of being rushed. Unless they are eating snacks throughout the day in class, which is very doubtful since in most cases eating during class is rude, lunch should be a time to eat or relax from their rigorous studies.

Jessica S  on  4/22/2014 8:47:48 PM commented:

I am a senior in high school and I gave up my lunch period to take an art class.

 on  4/22/2014 7:52:53 PM commented:

Yeah! It's a new open door and more opportunities to do the things that you're interesting to improve your skills.

Debra F  on  4/22/2014 5:59:07 PM commented:

My son is a freshman in hs. He opts to not take a lunch to be able to fit in two band classes. The school allows the students to eat in their 6th period class. He and I are satisfied with the time provided to eat a healthy lunch.

Carolyn F  on  4/22/2014 4:29:20 PM commented:

My senior year (2014-2015) I will not have a lunch so I can take all my classes to meet graduation requirements as well as choir!

Janet V  on  4/22/2014 3:42:34 PM commented:

Yes! I would definitely be willing to give up my lunch to take another course.

Erin C  on  4/22/2014 3:25:01 PM commented:

Not news to me, I haven't taken a lunch period in years (instead I've got band, gym, health, psychology, interdisciplinary studies, and three languages) no study halls either. At my school, if you don't take a lunch,teachers are required to let you eat during class, and that's what I do. Its a popular option here

Alissa E  on  4/22/2014 2:27:28 PM commented:

I would take this opportunity in a heartbeat. Plus, to avoid the "wolfing down a meal" part, who could just bring food to a class where teachers don't mind you eating. Also, if you had to bring food from home, it would be better for you than something from Taco Bell any way.

Chris J  on  4/22/2014 1:51:43 PM commented:

My school's lunch is pretty bad, so I don't eat lunch anyways. Why not keep myself busy with an extra class?

Miguelina O  on  4/22/2014 1:36:03 PM commented:

This controversy opens up a very important question that today, because of our busy daily routines, many of us ignore. Is our health more important than anything else? Particularly, I do not think people think about their health too much until they get a terrible disease or are about to die. Many people do not care about things until they lose them, and that is what is being shown here. Our goals and ambitions in life are very important because they make us feel good as we succed in life. But, our health is primary. How can we enjoy of our accomplishments in life without a good health? Stop the extreme competition in high schools that in a way are separating so many students. Why to compete so much if at the end we will all reach the same end. It is ok to work hard for what we want but not with the ugly wanting of beating others, and as here is shown, of beating our own selves. Let`s persuit our goals and happiness, but not over the failure of others, and most important, not over our own health.

Leon C  on  4/22/2014 12:54:18 PM commented:

I, myself did forgo my lunch period during my Senior year of High School, and if I had the choice of doing it or not, I would never do it again. Considering I sometimes have school days of 14 hours with extracurricular activities, a lunch period is a necessity. It is extremely difficult, both physically and mentally, and unhealthy to go so long without any source of nourishment. Without nutrition, the human body has difficulties in focusing on academic activities, resulting in poorer performance in class. Thus, it is not worth dropping Lunch for an extra class.

Alexandra G  on  4/22/2014 12:40:06 PM commented:

I'm a high school senior and I haven't had a full lunch since my freshman year. My sophomore year I only had a lunch every other day, junior year I had lunch once a week, and this year I don't have a lunch at all just to fit in my classes.

Rebecca M  on  4/22/2014 12:16:22 PM commented:

Our HS allows students to miss lunch. (No parental signature was required, they just sent out her schedule that way.) It is not always to take extra classes, sometimes it is just a scheduling issue (especially if a child is taking an advanced class that is not normal for their grade). However, my daughter wanted to take two languages and music. I was hesitant but it has worked out fine. All teachers (except foreign language) let them eat during class. This way I know she is eating the healthy lunch she packs from home, and is not temped by all of the crap in the school cafeteria. I think the STA should spend their energy worrying more about the horrible choices served in the school lunch program.

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