Hangry Hordes Hate Lunchtime Lines

Students suggest alternatives to a line that leaves some frustrated by their food options.


Teigan Caldwell

Students joining the end of the lunch line near the stairs know they’re in for a frustrating wait.

Teigan Caldwell and Anneke Wagner

The Dining Hall is a mass of moving people. Middle Schoolers are leaving and Upper School students are rushing in, desperate to get to the front of the lunch line before they’re forced into a 20-minute wait for food.

Trapped in a snake of students extending from the servery entrance to the stairs, some Upper Schoolers shared their specific complaints about – and potential solutions to – the Friends School lunch system.

“The line sucks,” said senior Ben Gamper. “By the time I get there, all the food is gone. All my friends are gone. It sucks.”

Upper School students get dismissed for lunch at 1:00 pm, while Middle Schoolers are leaving the Dining Hall.

Students with M-block music classes that start at 1:40 are given priority to skip the line, while other students have to wait in the hall. Teachers monitor the line, asking students if they have an M-block class. As M-block traffic slows down, monitors allow small groups of students from the hall into the servery.

This fall, the system has been the topic of much frustration within the Upper School.

Interviewed in line last week, multiple students brought up the idea of the food being “gone.” 

Junior Sophia Clark (who uses all pronouns) clarified it was the good food that is usually gone when he finally makes it in to the servery. They described the food at the front counter as either hot meals the kitchen staff serves to students, or sides students pick up themselves.

Sophia said the sides taste better and are taken first. So students have to be strategic about when to join the line. If they aren’t in the servery when the sides gets restocked, everything they want will be gone by the time they show up.

Another challenge is that many students aren’t free to linger in the Dining Hall during M-block, because they have non-class plans.

“I have stuff to do during M block, but I’m not in an M block class,” Sophia said.

That means she doesn’t get to order food first with the students who have official M-block classes. But that doesn’t always feel fair.

“I have to study for a test during M block,” they said.

Another student added that they weren’t just going to study for a quiz during their M-block, they had a quiz. This didn’t count as having an M-block either, so they worried that they would be left with very little time eat by the time they got their food.

Do students need to sacrifice their stomachs for their grades?

Joel Hammer, a computer science teacher who was monitoring the rush, says students with some M-block commitments – like tests, or possibly clubs – should get priority for lunch.

“Yes, of course for tests,” said Mr. Hammer. “I think it depends on the clubs and how often they meet or how important the meetings are.” 

Hammer says the lunch system isn’t perfect, but it has some pros.

“Every system has flaws, but I like that students with M-block classes get to go through first so they aren’t starving in orchestra or wherever else,” he said.

Hammer also had a suggestion about what could improve the system.

“If students followed the rules,” he said. “Like no cutting, or lying about M-block classes.”

Students waiting in line also offered other possible solutions.

“We should have a more staggered line,” said senior Rachel Millspaugh.

A staggered line would mean different grades would get to enter the servery at different times.

A few other students shared similar thoughts.

“Sixth, seventh, and eighth grades get out at different times, so it’s much less crowded and chaotic,” said Abby Szokoly, a freshman who attended Frients for Middle School.

Abby remembers the Middle School lunch system working smoothly, and agrees that a staggered line, or a similar system, might help the Upper School too. 

Hopefully the school will consider these suggestions and improve the lunch system.