‘Single Lunch’ Saved at 11th Hour

Graphic of bell schedule

Garfield announced at 10 am today (Sept. 21) that it will retain a single-lunch schedule, after intensive outcry by students, staff and families. District leadership had ordered the school to implement a two-lunch-period schedule, to start today (Sept. 21), because of concern that students lacked adequate time to eat.

Principal Tarance Hart, in a late afternoon email on Sept. 21, said that “After careful consideration, our district leadership has decided to pause the transition from one to two lunch periods for the time being.” Dr. Hart added, “While it is possible that the pause could be lifted in the future, rest assured that if additional information becomes available, I will promptly update our school community.”

No specific reason has been officially cited for the SPS reversal, but the factors could include a change.org petition garnering nearly 1,000 signatures and extensive lobbying of District leadership and the School Board.

Also, the Garfield PTSA Board had voted on Sept. 13 to support a single lunch. The Garfield administration, teachers, staff including Culinary Services and others at the school appeared overwhelmingly to favor one lunch.

Also, little if any evidence exists that, despite lines at the food service counter, students are unable to eat during the 45- to 55-minute daily break available for lunch. Observers said that some students’ mental health would be hurt by the fragmentation in club and social activities caused by a two-lunch schedule.

The announcement was greeted with elation at the school. “My entire class cheered when this was announced,” said Computer Science Teacher Earl Bergquist. “Much thanks for all the PTSA, parents, students and staff that supported this decision and our students’ well-being,” he added. “One Love, One Lunch, One Garfield.”

Background information…

Single-Lunch Bell Schedule 2023-24

Dr. Hart’s Sept. 21 announcement (retaining single lunch)

Dr. Hart’s Sept. 19 announcement (plan for two lunches)

Dr. Hart’s Sept. 13 announcement (initial plan for two lunches)

On Sept. 12, Assistant Principal Ida Acton had told the monthly online PTSA Board meeting that Garfield administration believes that a single lunch is the best way to support student clubs and socializing. Culinary Services and other staff at Garfield were said to support a single lunch, and students were upset by the possible change.

The other Seattle high schools of Garfield’s 1,500-plus-student size are not facing a switch to two lunch periods. The difference appears to be the greater volume of meals served at GHS. (There is no charge for breakfast and lunch at Garfield because of the proportion of students eligible for free meals: about 41 percent in 2022-23. That figure is higher than at the other largest high schools.)