As the clock approaches 11:07 a.m., we come face to face with a ravenous pack of teenagers trapped behind the protective walls of a classroom.
Behold these strange and fascinating creatures—the obligatory “stealthy snackers” (bringing up their palms as if to yawn, but instead sneaking a bite of granola bar into their mouths) and the unfortunate snack-less bunch who have to suffer through those last minutes of stomach-growling, restless-feet-shaking torture before the bell.
It may be hard to fathom why teens experience such hunger if they’re eating three proper meals a day. Perhaps such creatures have naturally insatiable appetites? Perhaps they aren’t even truly hungry, and just have the urge to vex all of their teachers through insubordination-via-contraband-snacks?
Or perhaps the “three meals” standard is just too idealistic for the life of students. Averaging about five to six hours of sleep a night (on good days), each morning, the feeling students experience when getting out of bed is dangerously akin to digging oneself out of a shallow grave.
These poor creatures proceed to go through the motions—get dressed, pack for school, and hopefully brush their teeth. The thought of having a “proper” meal for breakfast is inconceivable, and this luxury of a meal is reduced to a mere sip of water and a bite of toast that is sure to earn the student in question a notorious blue slip.
With no time or appetite for food that early in the morning, students arrive at school with an empty stomach. And once their insides awaken from their sleepy stupor and their stomachs realize that they have been neglected, the students will have already missed their chance for breakfast.
The New York Times claims that the answer to properly fueling a body is eating small meals five to seven times a day. This is the optimal eating pattern for giving growing adolescents energy while maintaining their health. Even if they don’t skip breakfast altogether, the time between that and lunch is still too long.
So, perhaps it’s time to revisit the system in which eating during class is prohibited. Of course, teachers and administrators might protest this, and rightfully so. A cacophony of munching, crunching, and food-wrapper-crinkling noises is certainly not the ideal environment to conduct a lecture.
There is also the argument that food may divert the students’ attention away from the subject, but the time students spend daydreaming about food and trying to devise “sneaky” plans to eat might be an even bigger impediment to their studies. All in all, starving students don’t have enough brainpower to live up to their academic standards and expectations, let alone even behave like their normal selves, according to every Snickers’ commercial.
Despite there being great outcomes of permitting students to eat during class, students also should not be given carte blanche to eat however they please. Ground rules must be set. For example, students shouldn’t see snacks during class as a right, but as a privilege that can easily be revoked. Snacks should be relatively silent (no celery, carrots, or Sunchips) and students must be willing to clean up after themselves.
Allowing food in class will encourage concentration and rejuvenate students who have to sit through long block periods all day.
Our wild pack of teenagers will be able to graze on snacks while working on problems or reading passages, and this way, they might actually accomplish some things in those minutes before lunch instead of waiting to bolt out the door towards the nearest source of sustenance.