Chowing down in a pandemic: Students adjust to changes in school lunches

Alena Gillespie, Staff Writer

The lunch bell rings and students rush to the cafeteria to be first in line to get food and secure a table for their friends. This everyday routine is now in the past as lunch has changed amid the global pandemic.

Lunch is now filled with red sticker dots placed six feet apart on the bleachers of the gym and stadium, though the school has moved on from its pre-ordered boxed, hot lunches.

To maintain social distance protocols while eating lunch, students are assigned to sit on a red sticker dot on the bleachers of the gym or stadium depending on the weather.

“I still feel that students are able to connect with friends despite the distance,” sophomore Dania Loredo said.

In an online survey of 146 responses, 60 percent of students said they would rather eat lunch outside than inside. 

“I like eating lunch outside when the weather is nice because it gets students out of the bland indoors,” freshman Grace Albers said.  

Depending on the day of the week, students either eat with their herd or their grade. 

“I like eating with my grade,” Loredo said. “I get to be with my friends and the close people that I know.”

Another aspect of lunch that has changed is that students are not able to use a microwave to heat up their food. 

“I brought a sandwich, but it could get really boring,” Albers said. “I would recommend apples and peanut butter, but a peanut free option would be beans and rice. It is good cold or warm.”

There are many other ideas to change up students’ lunches that they bring from home.

“I would suggest salads, fruits, vegetables and nuts,” Loredo said.

At the start of the year, to obtain a hot lunch, students had to order their food on the American Food and Vending app called Fresh Rewards the Thursday prior to the week they would like to receive it. 

“I like (purchasing) the boxed lunches because you don’t have to remember to pack a lunch every night,” Albers said. 

When pre-ordering a boxed lunch, students were given the everyday options of a cheeseburger, a pepperoni pizza slice or chicken tenders that all include fries. There was also a daily food special that students are able to choose from.

“I like the fries the best because they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside which is really good,” Albers said. 

For students to get their pre-ordered lunch, they go to the cafeteria during their designated lunch period. 

“Most of the time it is smooth,” Albers said. “I walk in and say my last name and the lunch lady hands me the box with my food in it.”

According to an online survey of 139 responses, 16 students said they have ordered a boxed lunch or received one because they forgot a lunch from home. 

“I forgot my lunch one day and bought lunch in the commons,” senior Maizie Young said. “It was good as it usually is, but it takes a long time to buy lunch and then go outside to eat.”

While there are many changes to lunch, students are now able to purchase a cheeseburger, pizza and fries the same day. Loredo said the part of lunch she still wants is the social connection. 

“I miss being at the same table around friends,” Loredo said.

Going forward, these new changes to lunch will become students’ everyday routine.

“I hope someday it will go back to some of the old normalcy,” Loredo said. 

Bohaty and Rost members eat their socially distanced lunch on the gym bleachers on Oct. 28. (Alena Gillespie)