OPINION: Manual needs to find a solution to overcrowded lunchrooms in the winter


Molly Gregory

Students eat during red fifth lunch. Photo by Molly Gregory.

Molly Gregory

As early as November, Manual students stop sitting in the courtyard during lunch. The reason why is obvious: it’s cold. This means that from November to March, students are forced to eat inside, causing an overflow of people into both the senior and freshman cafeteria. Many students have expressed discomfort with this situation.

“Very few people sit outside which crowds the cafeterias, making it hard to find chairs to sit in, or even a table to eat at with your friends,” Anna Schroll (10, J&C) said.

“Lunches during winter are way overcrowded. There’s absolutely no breathing space,” Gia Mendriatta (10, MST) said.

With the lack of space, students sometimes struggle to find a place to eat. “One time last year, me and a few other people had to sit in the hall and eat because the freshman and senior cafeterias were full,” Mendriatta said.

This was a common solution in the 2018-2019 school year. On any given day, students would eat their lunch in the halls. However, as of the 19-20 school year, students are no longer allowed to sit on the floor and eat, leaving even less space.

Manual staff have implemented a placeholder solution, as they displayed on their twitter.

On Nov. 3,  staff placed several bar stools throughout the small cafeteria around four preexisting columns. There is a small ledge around the column, which measures to 44 inches long. Each cafeteria tray is 11 inches long. Assuming that the intended amount of people sit there, there is ample space for two students to eat comfortably by themselves.

One downside to this solution is that students usually dine in groups larger than two, and no matter how students arrange the chairs, they can’t possibly sit across from each other and converse normally.

No matter how many tables, chairs, and stools administration adds to the cafeteria, the room itself stays the same size. With the added seating, students may have a place to sit, but they are still shoulder-to-shoulder.

“I think it’s an inadequate amount of space for someone to feasibly eat there, and it’s not comfortable for the students to actually enjoy their time at lunch, which we don’t have very much of,” Simon Forsting (10, HSU) said.

Students occasionally resort to their lunch period to do homework. Mr. Farmer discourages this. “Wait until class . . . They can work it out at their tables, I don’t think it’s too crowded,” he said.

Around 379 people are in each lunch, depending on teachers’ schedules. According to Mr. Farmer, some teachers switch to fifth lunch in order to provide uninterrupted class time.

“Sometimes a teacher will give an exam, and they have third lunch or second lunch. Well, they don’t want to break the test up. So, they’ll call and ask, ‘Hey, is it OK if I go to fifth lunch or first lunch so I can give them a test?’ Yes. As long as we know, we’re good,” Farmer said. “Now, do we have teachers that send anyway? I’d like to think they aren’t doing that anymore.”