Free lunch creates long lunch lines


Photo by Tissa Amaira

The long lunch line wraps around the cafeteria. Students make use of the free lunch that the county is currently providing due to Covid.

Students scramble from their classrooms all over the school to reach the cafeteria. Despite their efforts, the lunch line has already extended beyond the cafeteria. Now, they have to wait an unusually long time to get their food. This has been the case for many students since the beginning of the school year.

MCPS provided free lunches to help students during the pandemic that could be picked up in certain locations around the county. Even though students are back in person, the school is still providing free lunches for all students in school. This is great for most students, especially for those who tend to eat school lunches or who do not have time to prepare food at home. However, there is a downside to this. The cafeteria is now unusually packed with students who want to buy lunch.

“We didn’t anticipate kids accessing lunch on the first week of school,” Assistant Principal Nicole Morgan said.

Most days, the lunch line wraps around the cafeteria, sometimes reaching all the way to the stairs that lead to the cafeteria. This has caused many students to wait until later in the lunch period to actually pick up their lunch. This poses its own problems. Students who come later have a limited variety of lunch foods compared to those who come earlier. Not only does this affect students who come later, it also affects students who come early that unfortunately get placed towards the end of the line.

“Now it’s just flooded with people, and I waste about 15 minutes of my lunch getting to the line, staying at the line, getting my lunch, and going back to where I usually sit,” senior Laura Cardoso said.

The long lunch line also creates a unique problem for the teachers who overlook the cafeteria. Many have to remind students to move along or stop using their phone as it creates distractions and halts the movement of the lunch line. Whenever students get closer to the door, a security official would ask them to store away their phone.

Additionally, the lunch supervisors are more strict with the amount of food students are allowed to pick up. This is mainly caused by the limited amount of lunches available to give to students who have started getting lunch at school.

“We had a limited amount [of food] at the start of the school year, that added to the timeframe getting through the line,” Morgan said.

Compared to the beginning of the school year, the lunch lines have improved dramatically. However, the efficiency is still a large issue.