School Districts Make Changes To Address Long Lunch Lines
A new state law that went into effect this year gives all K-12 students free lunch and breakfast, regardless of family income.
The law is a huge benefit for many, but it’s also creating challenges getting students through long lines in a timely fashion.
Marla Stahl helps serve students at Wayzata High School. Stahl has seen the number of meals dished up grow as more families benefit from free lunches.
“It has been quite the challenge,” says Stahl, who helps serve between 2,700-2,800 lunches daily.
Michelle Sagedahl, director of Wayzata Cafes, says lunch participation has gone up about 20 percent this year.
Robbinsdale Area Schools has seen has seen its lunch participation grow too, up 18 percent since the start of school.
“Having more kids eat with us is not a problem. We love that,” said Brie Smith, assistant director of nutrition services for Robbinsdale Area Schools. “We have been seeing some things like longer lunch lines, you know kids are waiting longer for their meals.”
School officials say this is a concern among students, parents, and staff leading staff to cook up solutions to cut down on long lunch lines.
Schools look for solutions to long lunch lines
Staff members at Wayzata High School are doing more food prep to help with the long lines.
“We have been pre-cupping, or pre-boating some of those items. So it’s eliminating the self-serve, so they can grab it and go,” said Sagedahl.
Condensing school menus, staggering class arrival times to lunchrooms and changing utensils used for serving food are other changes schools are trying.
“Using a larger scoop for things like mandarin oranges, so that they can just take one scoop, and keep moving down the line. So, really thinking down to the micro-level when students are selecting foods, so what makes that go quicker,” said Smith.
Officials say at the start of the year, it took students 20 minutes to get through the lunch line at Wayzata High School. Thanks to the efficiencies put in place, the students are now averaging 15 minutes.
As the school year goes on, lunchroom staff plan to make additional tweaks to lessen line time, knowing that feeding a student’s body can be just as important as their mind.
“We are thrilled to feed the kids, absolutely,” said Stahl.
The Wayzata and Robbinsdale school district also say participation in the free breakfast program has increased at their schools as well. At Wayzata, breakfast has doubled. Robbinsdale has seen a 38 percent increase.