Cafeteria chaos continued

Sam Abella follows up on persisting disorganization issues in the cafeteria.

Last school year, I wrote an Opinions article stressing the importance of a reformed LM cafeteria system. I outlined significant problems and inefficiencies surrounding the process, and even suggested new approaches to solve the issues at hand. But not only have the problems persisted; they have been exacerbated by a new system.

For those who were not at LM last year, the process was different from our current lunch system. First and foremost, the entire cafeteria space was put into use. Entrées were located in the same place, however the snacks, fruits, and drinks were all available to be taken somewhat buffet-style. These items were found in shelves separate from where entrées were served and could be somewhat efficiently selected, saving time and alleviating crowding. 

However, the newly adopted system manages to only make matters worse. The illogical process now combines selecting and taking an entrée, asking our hardworking staff to find and hand over snacks and drinks, and then typing in our numbers to purchase lunches; and this is all centralized in one area. The only plausible reason for the change is to account for the consistent theft of food occurring last year. However, if new and harsher policies were instituted, similar to the new attendance rules, stealing would be disincentivized. And by simply implementing security cameras, students could easily be snuffed out in the act. The change in lunch system is inefficient, time-wasting, and a poor utilization of the cafeteria space.

Students can spend nearly half of Lunch and Learn waiting in lines l Graphics by Eliza Liebo ’25/Staff

In my experience buying lunch this year, I have been packed in a crowd without any clue where lines begin or end, and it has been unclear where to find certain foods. No signs, labels, or staff help guide the crowd nor direct people with where to go. In the mob, students force their way forward and nudge in front of others. When questioning students about their opinion, a common phrase appeared: “They somehow made it worse!”

A positive implementation to lunches this year was the recent addition of stanchions, the barriers that separate lines. They seem to help direct the crowd, however they would be better served directing lines through the greater space in the cafeteria. First and foremost, LM needs to revert back to the ways of the old lunch process, where items were spread across the cafeteria instead of centered in one area, while implementing better security procedures for theft. This way, LM gains efficiency and safety while breaking up the crowds into orderly lines with these stanchions employed. Secondly, staggered times of students being able to purchase lunches should be implemented. For example, upper-classmen could buy food  during first lunch and under-classmen could buy theirs during second (with potential changes on a scheduled basis). There is far too great a number of students buying when lunch starts, and this is a problem that can easily be solved. However, staggered lunches may be an unpopular decision for many LM students. Alternatively, our school can begin offering food in multiple locations. Perhaps the entrées can be bought solely in the cafeteria, and the snacks, drinks, and fruit all in or outside the gymnasium. The current system does not take into consideration the needs of LM students, and offers little to no flexibility.

It is time LM takes responsibility for the efficiency and safety of our lunches. We as students have spent far too much time enduring crowding and confusion. I believe it is time for a fresh start. Clearly, LM staff believed so too prior to this year, however, without taking into account the needs of students, they inadvertently changed the system into a free-for-all battle for a spot in the line. Without questioning safety, or taking polls for our perspectives, the new system issued by our staff simply made it from bad to worse. ACES expectations, the new mantra at our high school, directly calls for accountability and safety. Where is the accountability in not addressing student needs for something as important as lunch? Or how about the clearly unsafe environment within the packed crowd? It is time for a change. We as LM students deserve better, and are eager to work with administrators to improve the system, together. 

If able, please click this link to fill out a Google Form where you as students can express concerns about our lunches and offer suggestions as well.

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