This Year in the Cafe: Long lines, Hard-working Staff


Audrey Gentile ('22)

On a recent day at RMHS, students waited in a long line for lunch in the cafeteria.

Alice Lin (‘22), Editor

As a result of challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic, the RMHS food services program is experiencing difficulties. 

The lunch lines for this school year have been very packed.  This is mainly due to staffing shortages, as outlined in a recent letter from Superintendent Milaschewski.  Also, with free lunch, more students prefer to have hot lunch than in previous years. As the number of students increases for hot lunch, the lunch lines just become even longer. 

Many students don’t like standing to wait for their lunches. Abigail Hunt, a senior at RMHS shared, “I really dislike waiting in lunch lines because I just want to get my food and I feel like, by the time I get my food, there’s not enough time to eat.” 

Another senior, Tallulah Patalano, shared, “The lunch lines in the school cafeteria are very chaotic from what I have seen. The places to get certain things aren’t too clear unless you’ve been buying lunch for years, and the lines are always tremendously long. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate what the lunch monitors and staff do for students because I think very highly of them. Even though waiting in the line is strenuous, students know that they’ll get something good for lunch every day.” 

Mr. Edra Santos, the RMHS Cafeteria Manager, assisted in confirming a few lunch-related questions. Mr. Santos shares that it’s true that every student in the Reading community receives free lunch. The term “free lunch” refers to any student that orders hot lunch that day will receive their first lunch for free. Any additional meals or snacks the student wants beyond their first meal, they would have to pay. 

In the previous years, students were always required to use their lunchtime to enter their pin number to buy lunch, even if they were eligible for free lunch. Now, due to the major lack of cafeteria staff members, students are no longer required to enter their pin number for their free lunch. Mr. Santos even shared that students don’t need to enter in their pin for the rest of the year for their first lunch. 

Before the actual lunch hour begins, the RMHS cafeteria staff members put in a lot of work. For example, preparing a range of meals and snacks for the students. Mr. Santos estimated that preparing the meals would take around four hours each day. The preparation takes significantly longer than the actual lunch sessions. 

The RMHS cafeteria staff members may not all know this, but as students, we really appreciate their hard work to prepare every single meal.  Although there are long lunch lines, students are very grateful for all that the cafeteria staff are working so hard under difficult circumstances.