Lunch Lines Increase Due to Changes in the Lunch Room


Credit to Photo submitted

Students wait in line in the cafeteria for lunch.

By Max Brewer and Aiden Manthey

Some might be wondering why the lunch lines are taking so long this year.

There are two things at play.

Over the summer, Sodexo implemented a new checkout system in the cafeteria and the FHN administration decided to go back to three lunch periods instead of the five the school had last year.

“They want to streamline and have the cashiers get two people done at once,” Cashier Mary Rasher said.

The new line system they are using involves one cashier checking out one person while it adds the other person to a queue. This causes the person in the queue to have to wait while the other person is checked out. This system causes the cashiers to have double the amount of students to check out compared to past years. While some students believe this is part of the problem, not everyone believes it is the main thing contributing to the congestion during lunches.

“There is proven research that once a student’s numbers are in the system they should be able to go one after another instead of waiting to punch their number in,” Cafeteria Head Karin Mann said. “Does it go faster? I believe so.” 

The cashiers are not the only ones affected by this, students are too. Students have only 25 minutes to eat lunch and having to wait in these long lines is taking a chunk out of the short amount of time they have.

“Some of my friends have to wait in the line for 10 minutes in order to get their food,” Sophomore Om Nair said. “When I sit down, I feel like I don’t have as much time to relax and eat as I would like.”

The school moving from five lunch periods last year to only three this year may have played the biggest factor on lunch times this year. Last year, each lunch had an average of 187 students. This year, each lunch has an average of 523 students. Even though it is causing some problems, the school has no plans to go back to five lunches.

“Three is actually our standard number for lunches, so three is what we’ve always done prior to Covid,” Assistant Principal Jeff Blankenship said. “The thing with five lunches is that we would literally have to redo every single kid in the building’s schedule.”

One thing that is unchanged about lunches this year is the free lunch program. This was introduced in the 2020-21 school year and continued in the new school year. Interim principal Dr. Lucas Lammers gives some insight on why it was kept. 

“It was part of the government’s response to the pandemic,” Lammers said. “Lots of people lost their jobs or got their hours cut back, so as schools reopened they saw that that was one way they could support families.”

The free lunch program benefits all as it doesn’t affect the schools budget and provides some more stress relief for students and their families.

“I think it’s fantastic, even without Covid I would love to continue it,” Lammers said. “Anything that can ease the financial burden on these kiddos and their families is a good thing.”

Editor’s Note: An early version of this story that appeared on the site did not include information provided by Mann on why some specific changes had been made in the lunchroom. The current version includes the information she was able to provide.