Beginning the 2015-2016 school year, the RHS lunch policy changed. In past years, students had 38 minutes to eat lunch and the lunch policy restricted eating areas to the first floor around the gym, auditorium and cafeteria.
Administration decided to alter lunch policies after surveying other high schools in Montgomery County regarding their own lunch policies during previous school years. Administration changed the policy as a way to become more in line with the “one-lunch” policies at other MCPS schools.
This year’s new lunch policy extends lunch to 40 minutes and expands the eating areas to all three floors. Students still cannot eat on the stairwells or leave school grounds during the lunch period. The extended lunch time and the opening of new eating areas allow more time for students to get food in the cafeteria and lessen traffic flow in the hallways.
“Upgrades were made based on recognizing last year’s model was a little bit too contained and it didn’t necessarily allow for as much activity to happen,” Assistant School Administrator Monica Abuliak said.
Some of the benefits of this new lunch include extra time for students to meet with teachers, visit the Media Center, talk with coaches and attend club meetings. Students can attend to school business while having time to eat. This also allows for more freedom to choose their eating areas and safer hallway maneuvering.
However, this lunch policy also contains several risks. For instance, more access to other areas in the school building could mean a possible increase in garbage presence. More noise in the hallways acts as a risk as well, since it can distract students when they take tests, speak with teachers, make up their work or study with a tutor during lunchtime.
“[The lunch policy is] disorganized and it causes more chaos in the hallways because people’s feet are hanging out when I’m trying to walk in the hallway and there’s food all over the floor,” senior Ambre Flowers said.
Not only does the new lunch policy affect students and teachers, but it also affects building services. “I think the kids need to be confined to one spot instead of being able to eat all over the school because they make a mess,” Building Service Worker Larry Bellamy said.
To combat the risks of the new lunch policy, teachers have been asked to help with lunch duty by surveying the halls for trash and ensuring traffic flow. Administration ordered more trash cans to combat the possible presence of garbage around the school as well.
In comparison to other high schools around the area, RHS lunch times do not differ much. For instance, Magruder HS has 45 minutes for lunch, Richard Montgomery HS has 49 and Quince Orchard HS has 40. For eating areas, Magruder HS and Rockville HS both have closed lunches, meaning students can eat anywhere but they cannot leave the school. However, Richard Montgomery HS and Quince Orchard HS have open lunches, allowing students to leave the school for lunch.