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Taking Back the Lunch Break

Jan
30
2006

The average Brit now takes less than 20 minutes for lunch.
At mid-day they scarf down food in 19 minutes and 42 seconds, 26% less time than they did six months ago.
Why? Survey says they do not want to appear “uncommitted to their jobs,” as those slackers who take the hour-long break they are entitled to are considered. (Never mind the cell phones, blackberries and email that encroach on out-of-office time).


Oh, rats. Once again Europe is taking on bad habits from the U.S., where it seems 40% of people don’t even take a lunch break.
Italy is not immune to the trend, either.
The Italian lunch has shrunk in 15 years from 1 hour and 53 minutes to 30 minutes, according to the national association of restaurant owners (FIPE).
That’s only about 10-minutes more than UK counterparts, suprising if you think that most Italian companies feed employees.
Meal tickets are a common perk and coupons are honored outside company grounds, many Italians now use them get sandwiches at grocery stores or sit down in a café for a quick plate of pasta.
When I first moved to Milan to intern at an Italian TV station, those coupons were a lifesaver. It was the one square meal I had per day: a first course (soup or pasta), a second course (meat or cheese) with some kind of veg and fruit or dessert. Coffee was not included but there were a couple of company cafés, depending on who you wanted to meet or avoid.
Nearly impossible to get through that in 30 minutes. And in fact, anyone working on a story handed the coupon over to colleagues to bring back a sack lunch.
In the small offices where I’ve since worked, lunch breaks are at most about 40 minutes. The more settled folks bring food from home to microwave and maybe venture out for an espresso, the younger set leave to forage for a piece of focaccia or a kebab and eat at their desks.
Here’s my plea:
Unless you work at Walmart, you’ve got an hour lunch break.
Please use it.
Spread the word.
Then some wise journalist will do a story about how Americans have rediscovered lunch.
It will be picked up as gospel by the European papers.
And we can all get back to a civilized break at mid-day.
Amen.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 11:05 AM | Permalink

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