Lunch Line Madness


Photo by Sarah Storm

You only have 35 minutes to get your food, eat it, and finish that math assignment due next period. You wait in the seemingly never-ending line. In the end, you get five minutes to throw a couple of bites in your mouth and scribble some numbers on the paper, hoping you will get at least a few points. The lunch lines are way longer than in years past. Because of a lunchroom staff shortage here at Bingham, “We’ve had to cut back on one of our lines. It makes it harder to get 900 plus students through the lines. You’d be amazed how much faster things could go if we had even one more line open,” shares Angela Allen, head of staff for the lunchroom. 

Shockingly, it is not just Bingham struggling to get enough lunch workers. Schools throughout the U.S. have longer lunch lines due to the lack of staffing. Some schools are even missing 20-25% of the workers needed. 

Cheryl Johnson, a director for the lunch programs in Kansas, shares that “We aren’t even having people apply for jobs.” Nobody wants to work in the school lunchroom. 

Allen added, “Most of the people who chose to work in school cafeterias are moms. Because of the government support right now giving them child credit every month, they don’t need the second income.” So because the income isn’t needed, they don’t want the extra work. 

Some schools have to offer more money to gain employees. Linette Dodson, the state director for Georgia schools’ lunch programs, said, “Many school districts are offering $1,000 signing bonuses to encourage people to apply.” Even with the promised money, some schools are still struggling to find sufficient staffing. 

 Bingham has their own plan of action in place to get more workers. Right now, Bingham is using Facebook Pages and word of mouth to spread the information. 

When asked if student volunteer groups could help pass out food, Allen explained, “Right now we are under a lot of restrictions with federal guidelines that require us to only have the minimum [number of] people.” Due to COVID-19, they have to track all the workers to keep the food environment safe. Some say people are less willing to expose themselves to more situations where they could get sick because of COVID-19. Allen hopes that as the pandemic winds down, more people will be willing to work for Bingham’s lunch program. 

What can you do? You can continue to be patient with our wonderful lunch ladies and remember to thank them each day.