Students and Staff Adjust to Shorter Lunches


Ellie Furr, Staff writer

For the first couple weeks of school, students and staff at Chamblee Charter High School enjoyed a 30 minute lunch with plenty of time to eat and socialize. Now, due to overcrowding problems in the cafeteria, those 30 minutes have been cut down to 25.

“We felt like there were too many students in the cafeteria at once and for safety reasons, we felt like it was best to divide it up into smaller groups,” said Assistant Principal of Instruction Candace Steadman.  

With more than 300 new students this year, Chamblee had over 500 students in each lunch during the first two weeks of school. All three lunches were breaking the fire code, with B lunch more than 200 students over maximum legal capacity.  

“I was informed that we were over fire code capacity,” said Steadman. “We needed to get the numbers down to a smaller size so that they would be more manageable.”

The Chamblee administration has dealt with having a large number of students in the lunchroom before, but this time, student safety demanded something be done. What could they do to reduce the number of students in the cafeteria? Create a fourth lunch.

Having four lunches is not new at Chamblee. In fact, there were four lunches until very recently.

“Up until two years ago, we’ve always had 25 minute lunches, and students have been able to get their social needs met in 25 minutes,” said Steadman.

In Chamblee’s current situation, creating a fourth lunch was the only reasonable option concerning the overcrowding problem in the cafeteria.

“In order to get the numbers down, that was pretty much the only option that we had on the table,” said Steadman.

While this was the single best solution in the minds of the administration, some students are not happy about losing that five minutes. Freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors alike have expressed distaste for the decision.

“We had 30 minutes at the middle school, and it’s different with 25,” said freshman Juliette Bensyl. “Thirty minutes is a lot better.”

Some students actually think the administration made the right choice by adding an extra lunch, however. Sophomore Erin Obarowski thinks the new lunch system is more effective.  

“It makes lunch a lot quicker, so people can get their food on time,” said Obarowski. “I’m not complaining, I still get to eat.”

Junior Philip McCrery also has some positive things to say about the system.

“I like the fact that I’ll have a guaranteed seat instead of having to get there early to hoard chairs,” said McCrery.

Steadman also makes the point that it is not such a drastic change for the students.

“Overall each lunch was only shortened by five minutes, so I can’t imagine the five minutes would impede their desire or need to socialize,” said Steadman.

Teachers and other staff at Chamblee have also been affected by the new lunch system. Lorri Reynolds, a health teacher and head volleyball coach at Chamblee, had a fourth floor classroom and A lunch last year. This year, she is on the bottom floor of the fine arts building and has D lunch. She believes that the four-lunch system is necessary for Chamblee.

“I think from a logistics standpoint, certainly, we had to do something about it because not everybody was getting fed,” said Reynolds. “Bottom line, we can’t let kids go hungry.”

There is something, however, that Reynolds misses about the three-lunch system.

“We had a very good group of teachers [on the fourth floor] that ate together every day, and now we’re all on different lunches,” said Reynolds. “That was a fun time for us to talk and bond and share, and all the things we do personally.”

In spite of the drawbacks the new lunch system has created for students and staff, the administration believes that having four lunches is the best way to solve the overcrowding problem and to keep lunch flowing smoothly.

“I don’t see there being another alternative as far as ensuring that all students have the opportunity to go through the lunch line as well as turning over the lunches for the subsequent group that will be eating,” said Steadman.  

Adjusting to the new system may take some time for the students and staff, but ultimately, the administration had the best interests of everyone at Chamblee in mind.   

“I think [having four lunches] is fair to all parties, not just students, but also the support staff,” said Steadman.