Brief: Outdoor Lunch Popular, But Changed

With tents and Sewer Cat gone, students weigh where to eat


Teigan Caldwell

The beloved “Sewer Cat,” a favorite of many outdoor lunch-eaters, found a permanent home last June with school nurse Lynne Anonye.

Teigan Caldwell and Jonathan Elkins

For the past two years, eating lunch outside was a safety measure to prevent Covid from spreading. Around the Friends campus, large outdoor tents were set up.  In the 2020-2021 school year, classes were held there.  Masked students at folding tables interacted with fellow students, and sometimes teachers, joining class from home, via Zoom, on giant TV screens. 

Last year, just a few tents remained, for outdoor lunch.  These were taken down at the end of the year.

Meantime, students got used to eating lunch outside, which comes with lots of perks. The outdoor eating area includes multiple picnic tables, some with umbrellas (but the majority without, so rain is an issue). Tables are nicely spread out, so, unlike the Dining Hall, it’s neither loud nor crowded.

Plus, going out into the sunlight after being stuck inside classrooms all morning can improve your mood. Even the rain can sometimes be refreshing.

But those used to eating outside are now in a tough spot in the event of rougher weather. As Fall approaches and the weather gets colder, students have to weigh whether or not to sacrifice the less crowded and quieter environment for the warmth of indoors.

Another change is that Sewer Cat is no longer around. Last year, Sewer Cat was an outside-eater favorite: a stray who’d sometimes emerge from a storm drain in the Upper School parking lot.

Fear not, though!  Sewer Cat isn’t missing; it was adopted last spring by school nurse Lynne Anonye.

There are other animals to watch, though – including small birds picking at the food scraps left behind by previous outdoor lunchers.