You may have noticed the new lunch line in the campus center that popped up during the beginning of December. The chief architect of this plan was Laurence Fine, a junior at Ridgewood High School. As the student representative to the Board of Education and a member of student government, Fine felt like it was his responsibility to fix the lunch line overcrowding that RHS has been grappling with for several years. The pizza line in the cafeteria regularly extends into the hallway, causing disruption of hallway traffic and turning the cafeteria’s entrance into a congested mad-house.
Although this has been an ongoing problem, Fine felt a call to action from a specific incident earlier this year when a freshman was on line for fifteen minutes, but when she finally reached the counter, all of the pizza was gone. Because it took so long, she then ended up missing her club meeting too. Fine contends that “something like this can not happen at RHS.”
As a local, state, and national leader, Fine is experienced with working with political figures to get things done. He brought this experience to the process of establishing a new lunch line. Fine first presented the idea of fixing the lunch line issue to Basil Pizzuto, Assistant Principal of RHS. Pizzuto arranged a meeting between Fine and Pomptonian Food Service, and all three parties agreed to a deal.
The process was relatively painless, which is ironic considering the fact that RHS has had this problem for years. It turns out that RHS had had a campus center lunch line over a decade ago that had been closed because of various administrative reasons surrounding free periods, substitutes, and outdated policies. Because no one had turned serious attention to the overcrowding problem for a long time, Pizzuto had held the belief for years that Pomptonian had cut the lunch line because it was unsustainable for them. This turned out to be false, and it only took one meeting with them to make this change happen.
The line is meant to relieve congestion in the cafeteria and provide an alternative location to buy lunch in the campus center. The theory goes that if Pomptonian increases the number of lines in the school, the long waiting periods will go down. However, because of the sheer size of the school and the overwhelming demand that exists, adding another lunch line or two may not fully fix the problem of overcrowding. However, as a result of the new lunch line, most students have seen dramatic reductions in wait times.
Aum Mundhe, a junior at RHS, shares a common sentiment with most RHS students and sees the new line as a welcome addition: “The new lunch line has been a big help to me, especially as someone who eats pizza a lot. I was sick of waiting in lines for ten minutes for two slices, but the new line cuts waiting time in half. This is important to me because I need to get lunch quickly before going to clubs or risk missing much of the meeting.”
The main idea behind creating the new lunch line stemmed from students missing clubs because of waiting on the lunch lines. This was a problem that plagued freshmen more than upperclassmen, because upperclassmen tend to be more in tune with clubs and can just reach out to those who run the clubs for questions or signups. However, for freshmen, showing up to a club meeting twenty minutes late only to find an empty room is a tremendous problem.
Another advantage is academic: Brandon Lee, a junior at RHS, loves that he does not “have to waste half [his] lunch period on line anymore and [that he has] more time to get other work done. [He thinks] it’s a great improvement”
This new lunch line has enjoyed use by tons of students, because of its central location in the campus center and its constant exposure to the many students that eat in that room. Student reception has been very positive towards this new lunch line. Matthew Lepis, a junior at RHS, believes that “it alleviates the pressure on other lunch lines which is a welcome change.”
Although there are certainly more options in the cafeteria, this lunch line does offer an exceptional variety of lunches, including a wide variety of beverages, sandwiches, french fries, chicken nuggets, and pizzas.
The new lunch line is bigger than just this one project. It proves that in a school like RHS where administrators are encouraging and receptive to students’ concerns, ordinary students can make big changes.
Graphic: Sunny Rhew