What is Happening With the Lunch Lines at School

Sydney Slaton, Reporter

This year the school has seen a major labor shortage for custodial staff since everything started opening up after the pandemic, causing slow lunch lines and overworked staff. 

Across the country, there have been severe labor shortages and one of the industries most affected is education. The problems really started popping up around April of last year after quarantine. 

“It really became pronounced after we started coming out of the COVID closures,” Dr. Dale Longnecker said. 

Due to the labor shortage, the cafeteria is grossly understaffed causing long wait times for food. And with how much time students are allowed for lunch this causes some issues. 

“I noticed that they’re like really, really long lines. And there’s only one line and then usually it takes 15 to 20 minutes to actually get your lunch,” sophomore, Mikayla Arias said.

The long lunch lines make the whole lunch period difficult. In order to get food in a timely manner, students have to rush, sometimes having to forgo receiving help in order to eat. 

“If you have to stay after class or maybe you go run to a teacher, then you end up being last in line,” Arias said, “then you have to stuff your face.” 

All of these issues have students wondering if the administration is doing enough to rectify them. 

“I don’t really think they’re handling it the best way. I feel like there are other solutions that they just haven’t considered or they haven’t taken any action for,” Arias said. 

Students, such as Arias, have tried thinking of solutions or ways to help the cafeteria move faster. 

“Maybe having student volunteers, they could volunteer even once a week for volunteer hours,” Arias said. 

Longnecker even agrees with this idea, to an extent, the notion that kids could help out around school to make things easier on the custodial staff, and hopefully, even lunch could be something many people would agree with.

“I think volunteerism is a big deal,” Longnecker said. “I think there could even be opportunities, if there was enough interest, to do some short-term employment for kids after school, but that’s not been developed yet.”  

That little extra help that students would be willing to provide could go a long way as the few custodians the school does have are greatly overworked.

“We’re running skeleton crews. We ask the kids to help pick up chairs because there’s nobody doing it. A couple of custodians and the principals all stay to help and stack chairs,” Longnecker said. 

For now, it’s important to keep in mind that with all the free lunches, low amounts of staff, and restless students, the cafeteria staff are facing much more stress than in previous years. 

“Now we’re feeding more students than we’ve ever fed before, with six cooks. So there are problems with it,” Longnecker said. 

Now that life is trying to get back to normal after quarantine, the country is facing other problems that they didn’t anticipate. 

“I don’t think it’s any one thing, but all of a sudden we’ve seen our workforce change as not just a school, but as an entire society,” Longnecker said.