Charles Robbins l Sports Editor
Every year, principals evaluate their way of doing things. This year, the administration decided that cafeteria procedures had to change.
“We had some negative behaviors, and we unfortunately had some theft in the food court area,” said head principal Christopher Groff.
The new rules are as follows: seniors get a new lunch pass to be the first to go into the food court area, while everyone else is split up into different colored zones based on where they sit; a blue zone, red zone, green zone and orange zone.
Different zones are dismissed individually, making it so less students crowd the lunch line and can’t get away with taking food.
The policies were created by Groff and food service director Emily Rodriguez, with input from the cafeteria staff.
“There were too many kids not wanting to follow rules, too many kids stealing and trying to act like they weren’t,” said Marcie Heverling, who works in the cafeteria. “It’s a lot more comfortable now.”
Cedar Crest has a unique lunch structure. With a 45-minute lunch period, the school offers more time to eat than any other school in Lebanon County.
“You’re gonna naturally have some problems when you have our structure,” said Groff. “If you think back to middle school, you only had 30 [minutes]. How much time do kids really need to eat? 10 to 15?”
Having lots of time to sit after finishing a meal creates natural problems. According to Groff, while some kids “sit and play cards and video games,” others struggle with the downtime.
The new measures aim to lessen bad behavior, such as food fighting, by delegating this excess time, stated Groff.
Unlike last year’s bathroom policies, these policies have been relatively well received by students.
“It’s nice for us because we get to go in right away,” said senior Averi Sivak. “I also understand why they had to do these changes.”
Even underclassmen have been receptive to the changes.
“I still get food and have enough time to eat,” said freshman Noah Miller.
While some students are complacent with the new rules, others find the policies irritating.
“I don’t like the new policies because it takes away my freedom,” said sophomore Brianna Koehler. “I used to get water in a different period than my lunch so that I didn’t have to bring a water bottle, and now I can’t.”
Groff feels as if the claims are not necessarily accurate, considering the school offers all students breakfast before period 1.
“Every day we provide breakfast, and the state now provides a free breakfast, so there is an opportunity now every single morning, for kids to eat a breakfast. Everybody has access to breakfast and everyone has access to lunch during their lunch period,” said Groff.
Students who do not schedule lunch benefit from these policies as well with the addition of the lunch pass application. These students can fill out a form signed by their teacher to get lunch during the class period of their choosing.
“If you just fill out the application, you’re just getting a pass to go right into the food court area and not even wait on anybody,” said Groff. “So, if you do it the right way, it’s better for you.”
For those working in the cafeteria, incentives were pushed out of concern for kids’ well-being.
“It’s not disrespect that we feel, it’s just us trying to make sure that kids are doing the right thing now, so that they’re not getting themselves into trouble outside of school,” said Heverling. “It’s just to help them for the real world.”
The cafeteria has had a staff shortage since the beginning of the year, so stopping theft has been even more difficult.
“It helps the cafeteria ladies because they have been short-staffed since the beginning of the year,” said assistant principal Rob Snyder. “We only have about four of five ladies working the entire cafeteria most days when we should have six or seven.”
According to Groff, the added structural cafeteria rules may be a permanent change.
“For as long as we have a 45-minute lunch period, this may end up staying,” said Groff. “If we eventually, some year, end up going to a shorter structure where it shortens the amount of time in the lunchroom, then it could go away.”