Absence of a Lunch Period Causes Fatigue for Students


It’s a Monday afternoon in math class as the teacher enthusiastically stands in front of the class, trying to grab the students’ attention at the start of the lesson. Student voices slowly fade in silence as the many conversations have stopped. In the front corner of the room, a student nervously bends over his desk with his hands over his stomach, trying to reduce his stomach from making noises. However, the silence of the classroom and the lack of lunch doesn’t help. Grumble, lastly the noises of an empty stomach make its final appearance in the silent classroom, dragging classmates’ attention and only leaving him with embarrassment.

Unfortunately, this is an example of a common occurrence at Francis Lewis as many students lack a lunch period in their class schedule.

“Not having nutrition or not eating, it’s hard to focus without being nutritious as an adult, as an adolescent and as a student as well,” mathematics teacher Ms. Chandani said. “It affects their ability to focus and be fully and mentally prepared for class.”

There are several possible reasons why students might not have a lunch period in their schedule. Many considerations are put into programming, however not every request can be met. 

“There are a lot of potential reasons,” Program Office and robotics teacher Mr. Anuran said. “There is no one reason, instead multiple factors. One could be that they are involved in lots of classes and it doesn’t fit into their programs.”

“Another reason is that when we algorithm for programming, we use STARS to program and schedule students for the building,” Mr. Anuran said. “It could be that when that algorithm did the stimulation it places the lunch periods either in the beginning of the day or at the end of the day. Therefore, technically there is lunch but it was placed in the beginning or end where everything is squeezed with no lunch in between.”

Francis Lewis can prevent students from not having a lunch period by limiting how many classes students take and also adjust it after programming is complete. 

“I think we have to make sure that in the beginning of the year, we factor the number of classes they request and make sure that they don’t over request,” Mr. Anuran said. “Making adjustments after the finalization of the program so we can make sure that most students do have lunch periods.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), A student who hasn’t eaten in eight hours is more likely to perform worse in class than a student who has. Many students don’t have energy at the end of the day because they don’t have a dedicated period for lunch. 

“If I had lunch then I would be able to eat during a school day, and I wouldn’t go the whole day hungry,” sophomore Keziah Ayyanki added. 

For either two or three days, depending on the semester, some students don’t have a lunch period because of lab or gym, which can sometimes make them feel lethargic.

“I notice that students without a lunch period sometimes feel tired or put their heads down,” mathematics teacher Ms. Ramkishun said. “I see a lot of students sometimes take out a snack and eat in my class, which is okay because I know that they either have a lab or a gym that day so they don’t get a lunch period.”

A study done by Farzana Afridi et., al. from Indiana Statistic Institute and IZA found that poor nutrition and hunger throughout the school day might have a negative impact on a student’s performance by reducing their energy and memory. Children who don’t have enough time to eat lunch may suffer “academic and nutritional implications.”

“If you have multiple classes all at once it could overwork a kid,” senior Pereesha said. “They need that little break in the middle to get their thoughts collected to make sure they can do better in their next class.”.

“I think it’s nice that we have a break between all of our classes because everyone needs a break,” Pereesha added. “Last year when I didn’t have a lunch period it was really hard because I had to do all my classes all at once.”

Students who eat breakfast at school or at home are better prepared for the day, and school lunches give them the energy they need to continue learning after lunch.

“Generally speaking, I think that both students and adults would generally feel tired and lack energy,” Ms. Ramkishun said. “Nutrition gives us the fuel to go through the day. Without any breakfast, lunch or any proper meals, we wouldn’t feel energized or enthusiastic or ready for the rest of the day.”

A lack of a lunch period reflects heavily during gym class where the lack of energy impacts students’ ability to participate.

“Well, during gym sometimes I am not able to do everything because I [feel] dizzy or I am tired because I didn’t eat,” Ayyanki said. “In class it’s kind of just me being hungry and trying to control my stomach, so it doesn’t make any noises.”

“I think a lunch period provides a time for you to eat and just have sustenance for the day,” Ayyanki said,“so that you can go through the day without feeling tired or dizzy.”