So far lunch changes seem to waste time rather than saving it

September 9, 2019 — by Benjamin Li and Ethan Lin

Students bustle through the quad in an effort to reach the cafeteria as the lunch bell rings. Minutes pass and soon the line to buy pizza stretches past the shady enclosure of trees. Stragglers of the pack gaze dumbfounded at the long procession ahead of them, oblivious to the new cafeteria changes.

The new school year brought significant changes to cafeteria policy that have so far not worked out well. First, there was a new “card not cash” policy that requires students to use their ID cards to buy lunch. Although the change may save time when counting bills at the end of the day, it has tended to slow down the checkout process during lunch. This, combined with two staff members being out for different reasons, seemed to slow down the lunch buying process for everyone.

In order to keep up with these new changes, students who previously paid for their lunch in cash must now bring their ID cards with them. This can be problematic as students who have forgotten their cards must verbally recite their number, frustrating everyone behind them and increasing the wait time. 

Not only does manually reciting the number take time, the staff are dealing with time-consuming problems of their own. These include struggling to understand a new system, Titan School solutions, and overcoming the loss of a couple of staff members for different reasons in the first weeks of school. Luckily, the two staff members are back, a development that should help the lines move faster.

Another modification is that upon realizing that many students prefer to pay with cash, the cafeteria has compromised and is now allowing cash. But the good news comes with a catch — any change is transferred into a students’ ID card balance. 

This creates an array of problems, as students who may have paid with a $20 dollar bill for two slices of pizza now do not receive their enormous change that could have been used for after-school boba. For students who don’t buy food on a regularly basis, this change can cause them to lose money, as they will never be able to drain their lunch accounts, unless they buy lunch again. 

A possible remedy to these problems would be to expand the number of spots where students can purchase food — specifically, by adding more lines inside the cafeteria and decreasing the seating there. Most students do not use the indoor part of the cafeteria and choose to eat outside or in classrooms. Why not use the space efficiently and allow more food to be purchased there?  

It may take some work to add more booths within the cafeteria and to clear out some tables and chairs, but overall, it would help the situation. With the stressful academic obligations that many students have, this change and others could lift the worry of missing out on food due to long lines. Hopefully, the administration can resolve these issues soon so students can have a more efficient lunch.

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