12:24. The bell rings. Students excitedly rush out of classroom doors, missing their teacher’s last words of an assignment. What time is it? It’s lunch time. The dreaded cafeteria movie scene where the nerds hide in the corner and the cheerleaders sit center stage.
But high school is not like that, thankfully. Instead, more than a hundred Jefferson students flood the cafeteria, staking their places and saving seats for friends. Many other Jefferson students wait in line for school lunch.
Some wait in the three lines on the outside of the cafeteria, while others prefer lining up inside. Inside the cafeteria, most people tend to go for the middle line, also known as line 2, where most of the food is “done from scratch,” according to Penny, a cafeteria worker. Line 3, the line in the corner, serves pizza everyday while Line 1, the closest line to the windows, mixes things up.
Many students eat school lunch, but others like Jared, a senior, do not because he eats after school. However those who do eat school lunch, commented on the line situation. Junior Aaron Campos said that the “lines are long.” And some only eat occasionally, like Zhen who eats school lunch “once a month” partly because “sometimes [she] buys the food and doesn’t have enough time to eat.”
Johanna, a junior, agreed saying, “some students aren’t able to eat because of how long the line is.” And Tionne, a junior, thought that the lines could be “better” and “more efficient.”
There only 6 lines in total to feed an estimated 600 students in 30 minutes. Freshman Ren commented that after 20 minutes, the line is “really short.” For those who wish the avoid the line, they have time to talk to their teacher, go to their locker or the bathroom, and walk to the cafeteria.
However that leaves only 10 to 15 minutes varying per day to eat lunch. According to NPR, “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that students get at least 20 minutes for lunch.” So there is no way to avoid the long lines and still have enough time to chow down on food.
One could wait in line to have more time to eat, but those 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how early one gets in line, spent waiting on line are wasted on playing one’s phone or staring at the wall or watching people cut in line to avoid the long lunch line (not recommended because you will catch the jerk syndrome).
However, once again, there will not be enough time to eat because most people go to their lockers or the bathroom or talk to their teachers. This too-short lunch time problem is not specific to Jefferson High School. NPR states that “At many public schools today, kids are lucky to get more than 15 minutes to eat. Some get even less time.”
Jefferson hits the average lunch period perfectly according to the School Nutrition Association which states “the typical lunch period length is … 30 minutes for middle and high schools.”
In a nutshell, many people feel that the lines are too long and that they have too little time to eat, but the United States of America has not found a national solution for it. That is why people many choose bring their own lunch from home.