Should Students be Allowed to Eat in Class?
February 6, 2018
Hunger: The Real Distraction
Without the periodic intake and chemical breakdown of food within our bodies, human beings cannot mentally or physically function at maximum capacity, which is why the privilege of eating during classes should be granted to all students.
“I can never wake up in time to eat a full breakfast because of increased amounts of homework, so I need to eat during classes in order to feel energized and prepared for the day,” sophomore Winston Yi said.
A widespread concern of teachers is that food can distract students from their primary target at school: to learn. While an occasional rustling of a chip bag may cause a few heads to turn, this temporary distraction is far less harmful than the act of not allowing students to eat, because hunger takes away from their educational experiences in the long run.
“When a child is food insecure, the body naturally prioritizes the small amounts of food and how it will be used to fuel the functions of the body,” according to the Second Harvest Community Food Bank. “Energy from food is first applied to the maintenance of organs like the heart and lungs, followed by use for growth. Social activity and learning are the last place that energy from food is applied.”
Yi, as well as many other students, do not have a regular eating schedule that incorporates breakfast, which negatively affects their capacity for knowledge intake and attention spans during important lessons. Due to their hunger, there is more difficulty for students to focus on tasks at hand, causing learning to be inefficient for both teachers and students.
Not only does the restriction of eating in class negatively impact the learning qualities of students, but it also damages their health.
According to Community Health Magazine, “Eating five to seven times per day in a grazing manner with a good blend of protein, healthy carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lots of water is the best method to keep the brain and muscles fueled, the metabolism moving, and blood sugar levels constant. These outcomes are keys to maintaining optimum energy and body fat levels.”
Many argue that the period dedicated to lunch is sufficient for eating. However, sophomore Benji Kim presents a significant setback in proper nutrition intake.
“The lunch lines this year are way too long,” Kim said. “Also, most students do other activities than eating, but the time left isn’t enough, so students will have to give up eating for these activities they actually want to do.”
The option for students to eat during class time is absolutely necessary in order to guarantee the students receive the education they deserve and stay healthy in the process.
Save the Snacks! Eating in a Class is a Distraction
During class, some students become hungry due to not eating meals on time or from their high metabolism. Students and the teacher can be distracted by the noises, smells or just the overall urge to ask for a share of the snack. Teachers should prevent students from eating food in the classroom. Although eating in class could help students sate their hunger, the noises and smells from the food are distractions to others.
“Even if you try to chew your pretzels/chips/ice/whatever as quietly as possible, chances are it’s still noisy,” according to USA Today.
Although sometimes students run into problems and are not able to eat their breakfast before school, the cafeteria provides food before school and during break and lunch. Students should manage their time in the morning and make sure they leave time for a decent breakfast. If not, breaks between classes can satisfy their hunger so they focus better in class.
“Students need to eat something healthy about every three hours during the day,” Community Health Magazine stated. “They need something healthy to eat mid-morning, mid-afternoon and mid-evening.”
Even if teachers decide to ban students from eating in the classroom, teachers can provide solutions such as sending students who are really hungry to eat outside. Teachers can have their own preferences to solving the problem of a hungry student, but most of them should prevent students from eating in class altogether to prevent the possibility of distractions.
“Usually my students who want to eat, or are coming in late and want to eat, I’ll put them outside,” social studies teacher and tennis coach Natasha Schottland said. “They can eat outside even with the door open so they don’t miss information, but all the crumbs and everything like that need to be outside.”
Teachers setting rules that restrict certain foods or stop students from eating in class altogether can prevent the distractions that eating in class creates. Smells could fill the room and distract everyone, and those students will miss parts of the lesson, not to mention the noise and mess that eating in class makes.
“I could still focus on my work, but if I’m hungry and other people are eating, then I get a bit distracted,” sophomore Nishad Francis said. “If it is distracting for other people, have a corner in the room where they could quickly eat.”