During an open or off campus lunch, high school students are allowed to leave the school grounds to purchase and eat lunch. Before making your decision on whether an open campus lunch policy is in the best interest of the students, school and community, look over the benefits. If you implement the policy, create a well-defined set of rules for student behavior during lunchtime and consequences for breaking any of the lunch policies.

Autonomy

A teenager needs a sense of autonomy so he can make positive choices, learn responsibility, gain independence and develop self-governance. When a student is allowed to participate in an open campus lunch, he is allowed to choose what he wants to do with his time, whom he wants to spend that time with and what his lunch will consist of. This time also allows him the chance to make the right decisions when out in public, such as walking on the crosswalk or following the speed limit.

Real World Lessons

Those high school students will be heading out into the world very soon. When this happens, they must have some life skills in order to live and function on their own. One real life lesson is selecting food and learning to budget. If a student’s parent or caregiver gives him $5 for his open campus lunch, he must learn to make choices to fit within this monetary limit while satisfying his hunger. After trial and error, he learns what works and what doesn’t.

Supporting Local Businesses

When students are allowed to leave campus in search of food, it benefits local businesses. As Marlo R. Miura points out in “Off the Map: Extracurricular School Food,” the local businesses that receive the teenage patrons could make donations or support the school in other ways. If you choose an open campus lunch policy, consider talking with these local business owners and encourage them to communicate with the school about student behavior, truancy or other problems. Leave a business card with a direct phone number for these tips.

Exercise

An open lunch allows students to stretch their legs and get out of the classroom for a bit. Sitting at a desk for the vast majority of the day is monotonous. When teenagers get bored, they tend to cause mischief or find other ways to amuse themselves in the class. If you let the students have a change of scenery during midday, they will come back refreshed and ready for the second half of the day.