Open Lunch: How open should it be?


Eugene Bang, Reporter

Picture this: you’re at school, and lunch time arrives. You get to your car, and drive off to the nearby McDonald’s in the area. You quickly eat your food and return back to school in the nick of time to return to your classes. That’s a reality that many UHS upperclassmen envision, yet it’s something so far away from ever happening. You can ask any person with a car at the school if they would want the option of being able to leave during lunch, and they guaranteed would say yes. I mean, who wouldn’t want to leave school?

Most students either pack their own lunch or buy food from the cafeteria, and it’s something that most people are getting bored of. 

Mason Hill, currently a senior at UHS, says that he would be excited for an open lunch “because it would be a fun opportunity to be able to eat something other than what I bring from home or buy from the school.”

Urbana already has a ton of different restaurants in the area, which gives students a wide selection to choose from if they were to leave during their lunch shift. But it’s not just the idea of getting food that makes students jump at the idea of having open lunch. It’s freedom too. 

Further stated by Isha Sahai, a senior at UHS, who believes that it would “give more flexibility and perks to people who can drive.”

At the tip of becoming independent individuals, most seniors like the idea of being able to have the freedom of doing what they want. Even if they don’t get food, just being able to leave the school gives an exhilarating feeling of entitlement. Now it’s important to note, however, that even if open lunch were to ever be implemented in our school system, it would probably only be granted to seniors who can drive. The school can’t obviously let all 1,800 students be able to leave during their lunch times; it has to only be a certain number of people. If basically every senior is in favor of having an open lunch, then why isn’t it already a thing?

Well, that’s a really good question. And the answers to that question are the reasons why UHS doesn’t adopt that kind of provision. The first being student safety. According to research done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “crash rates over the lunch hours were significantly higher for teenagers in the counties with open-lunch policies, despite these counties having no elevated crash risk during other periods.” Having students leave during school time is a liability for the school system. Even if the school wouldn’t be at fault if students were to get hurt off campus, a lot of people would still criticize the school for something like that happening during school hours. And that’s something I don’t think UHS wants to risk. In addition to safety, there’s just pure impracticality. If off campus lunch became a thing, factoring in the time it takes to get to your car and drive off to a nearby restaurant, students would really only get like 10 minutes to actually eat their food. The only way to logically fix this problem would be to make lunch periods longer. But that’s a story for another day. 

And the only way open lunch can realistically become a thing is if it passes through administration. Mr. Allen, Assistant Principal of Urbana High School, states that several problems may arise from open lunch, like “students not returning to the school on time for class, potential misbehavior in local businesses, and litter.” And when asked if open lunch could ever be a possibility at UHS, he stated that the school isn’t currently “exploring open-lunch.”

So yeah, it’s pretty clear that open lunch could never happen at UHS. While the idea is popular and numerous people have probably tried to make it happen in the past, there’s just too many problems and holes within the argument. And something to note about seniors, and I can say this being a senior myself, is that while there are a lot of things we wish UHS could do differently, we really don’t care too much because we’re already leaving for college in a matter of a few months. So I guess we can keep dreaming then.


Burke, Christine. “Should Our Teens Be Allowed to Have Open Campus Lunch?” Grown&Flown, 19 Oct. 2018, Accessed 29 Sept. 2021.

People enjoying a healthy lunch outside. Your Medical Info, Accessed 8 Oct. 2021.