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FriJun 21

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day – June 21, 2024

If you’re someone who skips their lunch break or eats at their desk, this one’s for you; come celebrate National Take Back the Lunch Break Day with us. Held on the third Friday in June each year, this event encourages workers all over America to step up to the plate — lunch plate that is, and take a regular and longer lunch break. Why is there a day like this? It’s because multiple research studies showed a trend of lesser and more infrequent lunch breaks across employees in America, resulting in lower employee morale and well-being. This day was set up as a reminder of the importance of the benefits of lunch breaks.

History of National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

Earlier, electricity was the major factor in deciding which meal was the most important. Dinner, which was eaten late in the morning after several hours of work, was the main meal during the Middle Ages. During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, this meal was gradually pushed back to the evening, creating a gap between breakfast and dinner. A small meal, called supper, was squeezed into this gap. Often a snack, this meal was also often presented as supper parties or luncheon parties and was usually reserved for the ladies. They would have lunch with one another when their husbands were out; this meal was light and usually consisted of left-overs from the previous night’s dinner. When the Prince of Wales stopped to eat a dainty luncheon with lady friends, he was laughed at! In the early eighteenth century, afternoon tea supplemented the luncheon. As industrialization increased, so too did the working hours. This disrupted the eating habits of rural work life. Originally, workers would carry their lunch from home, but as factories moved farther away, this too changed. Mass-produced food, stalls, and fast meals began to be set up near factories. 

The lunchtime itself slowly began to see revolutionary changes; workers with long and fixed hours were given an hour off to eat lunch.

Soon, technological inventions like the punch card ensured every second of a worker was accounted for. This gradually reduced the ‘fast lunch’ trend. 

The ‘quick lunch’ culture, however, is said to have originated in New York. With major manufacturing setups across this city, there were plenty of workers looking to eat meals, and they wanted them cheap and fast. Fast foods cropped up; there were drugstore lunch counters and Automats cropped up, followed by soda fountains, sliced wrapped bread, and spreadable peanut butter. A New York Times reporter reported even timed diners at a single quick-eating establishment in Times Square over a month. He found that the New York reputation of ‘gobbling food almost whole’ was true; one man finished in 48 seconds! 

Eventually, people got tired of fast meals and began to get packed lunches. They would check out of work together, and shared lunches began to gain popularity. 

Tork a brand from global hygiene and health company Essity, commissioned a study four years ago. They found that while almost all workers consider a lunch break very important, more than half cannot find time to take a longer lunch break. Their research indicates employees who take a non-working lunch break score higher on a wide range of engagement metrics, including job satisfaction and productivity. This is why Tork created National Take Back the Lunch Break Day for workers across North America, to improve employee satisfaction and productivity by encouraging a lunch break.

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day timeline

The Word Lunch Begins To Be Used

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the usage of the term lunch or luncheon to describe a meal that was eaten between more substantial meals started to be used at this time.

17th - 18th Century
Lunch Is Born!

Supper gets pushed back to late in the evening, creating a gap between this meal and dinner; a light repast is used to fill in the gap.

Luncheon Gets Replaced

Afternoon tea served at 4 o'clock, replaces luncheon.

19th Century
The Growth Of Industrialization

Industrialization disrupts the previous eating habits. Workers now need fast lunches to take to work.

Shared Lunches

A feature in Munsey’s Magazine reports that manual laborers in large groups would sit in doorways, against the walls, or even on the curb to have their lunch.

Take Back The Lunch Break

Essity brand Tork commissions a study across North America, to find out how many employees actually take their lunch breaks, and what common perceptions exist about these breaks in the minds of employees and employers.

We Have The Day!

Tork creates National Take Back the Lunch Break Day.

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day FAQs

When did luncheon become lunch?

The term ‘luncheon’ was first shortened to ‘lunch’ in 1829, but it does not catch on fully.

Can employees opt out of lunch breaks?

Only if an employee works for less than six hours a day can they waive off lunch breaks. To officially waive off lunch breaks, both the employer and the full-time employee must agree in writing.

Do 8 hours of work include lunch?

Lunchtime is usually unpaid time. For example, in the U.S., if you are paid by the hour and your shift is eight hours long, then you are required to take a lunch break, but your employer is not required to pay you for this time.

How To Celebrate National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

  1. Get creative for lunch

    Want to enjoy your lunch break? Get a little anticipation going by packing something fun and delicious in your lunch box. Make something that requires as little prep and cook time as possible. Try out fast recipes that are all over the internet, and even create a week's worth of meals to save time. Make something you love, so you will actually want to step away from your desk to focus on your lunch. You can even make a game of it by trying to find a new place to eat every week.

  2. Eat your lunch

    Set a reminder for yourself to eat lunch at a particular time every day. This habit, combined with the delicious lunch you have planned, helps you break the cycle of skipping lunch or eating in front of the computer.

  3. Make it a group event

    Enjoy some time with colleagues and friends; go for group lunches with people around you. You can even invite loved ones over for a quick lunch date at a park or a restaurant. You can also get some team bonding in by scheduling team lunches and events during lunchtime. Choose your preferred group event, then go outside to eat your lunch away from the desk.

Fun Facts About National Take Back The Lunch Break Day

  1. It makes or breaks the job search.

    88% of North American workers reported having the ability to take a lunch break is important while considering a new job.

  2. Mentality matters

    88% of bosses encourage their employees can take a lunch break, but only 62% actually feel encouraged to do so.

  3. The perception about lunch breaks

    22% of North American bosses assume employees who take lunch breaks are less hardworking.

  4. What coworkers think

    13% of North Americans think their coworkers will judge them negatively if they take regular lunch breaks.

  5. We want lunch breaks

    58% — a majority of participants surveyed across North America — want to take longer and more regular lunch breaks.

Why We Love National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

  1. It reminds us to take a breather

    National Take Back the Lunch Break Day serves as a good reminder to us all to take advantage of those brief moments and do something other than work. Quick breaks can be used to get some reading in, take a quick walk, enjoy the fresh air, or even go for a run. We love the mini-break and hope more people take this chance to enjoy their lunch breaks.

  2. Enjoy our food

    Traditionally, lunch was always the filler meal. Nowadays, most of us who have busy bee schedules barely manage to pack a home-cooked meal, often relying on cafeteria fare or fast food to tide us through the day. To us, taking back our lunch breaks also allows us to savor the food we consume in the middle of our workday. We like to think of lunch as more than simple fuel, but a feast that finishes up our mornings and leads us into the evening.

  3. Good for mental health

    Very few employees report taking lunch breaks, but most who do report that they feel refreshed and more energized to continue work. And yet, we have employees eating their lunch at their desk, or going no further than the office kitchen or canteen. National Take Back the Lunch Break Day pushes us to make this change and take back our lunch break, which helps us not only deliver high performance but ensures we are keeping our bodies healthy and that we are getting enough of a break from the screen.

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day dates

2022June 17Friday
2023June 16Friday
2024June 21Friday
2025June 20Friday
2026June 19Friday

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