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Lunch Bunch Ousts the Breakfast Club

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To most adults, 9:33 A.M. would seem like a rather unappealing time to begin feasting on fried chicken and milk shakes. Given a choice, though, students at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga., have exhibited a definite preference for luncheon fare regardless of the hour.

Since the size of the student body greatly exceeds the capacity of the lunchroom, officials of the crowded school have been forced since 1984 to serve lunch in four shifts--the first of which begins shortly after the start of school each morning.

To appease the few traditionalists who find egg rolls hard to stomach before noon, the cafeteria does make an effort to offer such typical breakfast foods as eggs, waffles, cereal, and orange juice. But the breakfast menu has been far less popular with students than pizza, hamburgers, french fries, and other fast-food favorites, says Lassiter's food-service manager, Nettie Sayers. "We serve breakfast a few times a week, but most students would rather eat hot pizzas than pancakes or grits."

Both menus contain the same nutritional value, Ms. Sayers notes, so the food-service staff has made no effort to dissuade students from indulging in their favorite foods.

The early-morning lunch hour may leave some students famished by mid-afternoon, Ms. Sayers acknowledges, but she claims that most don't seem to mind the unconventional arrangement. Students assigned to the early shifts typically finish their school day earlier than others, and thus when hunger strikes can depart for home or an after-school job--and maybe a second lunch.

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