A packed lunch


Photo by Julia Ehlers

East High students eating lunch in the crowded cafeteria.

So here’s some food for thought.  With over 2,300 students at East this year, our school is packed to the brim.  And so is the cafeteria. On average, there are 737 students in each lunch period, and only about 500 seats for them to use.  This isn’t enough space even when you take into account the students going out for lunch.


This lack of seating is a lot of what’s causing frustration among East students, especially returning sophomores, juniors, and seniors who were used to lunch in the concourse hallway.  When asked if she had struggled to find somewhere to eat lunch, Kyra Rempe, a junior, responded with an emphatic yes. “I literally have to run here from math to make sure there’s enough seats for everyone,” Rempe explained.  This isn’t the only problem – some students don’t respond well to the crowds at lunch. “I have a good friend who has social anxiety, so having this many people stuck in one room can cause her issues,” another student explained.


Everyone has heard some friend or another complaining about finding seats at lunch, or struggling with the crowds, but there’s more to this story than just the negatives.  Administration evaluates their budget and staffing at the end of each year, and last year, it cost our school $60,000 to supervise the whole building, and keep it clean during the three lunch periods.  “We wanted to spend more of the money on the classroom, and more teachers,” Principal Sue Cassata said. “It also divided up our custodial crew and required them to do double duty.”  


So to try to decrease spending on supervision during lunch, East is in a sort of four week “trial period.”  After these first four weeks, East as a whole will evaluate, and adapt or stay the same with student and staff feedback in mind.  As for right now, if you, or someone you know is struggling with anxiety during lunch because of the crowds, talk to an administrator or teacher, and they can help you find a quiet office, or one of a few classrooms open to those who need it.