By the time most Upper School students walk to McFall Hall, wait in line for their lunch, and shuffle between the many tables crammed in the cafeteria, the 30-minute lunch period is almost over. Some students have realized this pattern and have chosen to make their lunches at home. At Collegiate, students have the option of either bringing their lunches or purchasing a meal plan for the cafeteria. On a recent Monday, I took pictures and asked people about their lunches. I wanted to know what people brought and was curious as to why they decided to bring it. Here’s what they said:
Amy Kaplan (‘18) and Katie Fleming (‘18) both love leftovers. Kaplan’s lunch (left) was leftover ravioli, sliced carrots, an apple, and a couple of Girl Scout cookies (a Tagalong and a Thanks-A-Lot), whereas Fleming (right) brought pasta, two apples, chips, and pretzels. Kaplan said her favorite thing to bring for lunch was “leftover Chinese food.”
Kaplan also mentioned how she “likes choosing what to bring,” and Fleming agreed, saying how she likes the “variety” that comes with bringing your own lunch. Keeping leftovers from preceding meals is rather common amongst students at Collegiate, and it can also decrease the amount of food wasted after a meal. Kaplan chooses not to eat meat outside of her home due to religious beliefs. Therefore, like Fleming, Kaplan says that bringing lunch is “easier.”
Dusey Hyman (‘18) and Addison Ratchford (‘18) are both vegans, so they find it easier to bring meals from home. Hyman’s lunch (right) consisted of pasta with baked tofu and various mushrooms, as well as baked green peas. Ratchford’s lunch (left) was a Caprese salad, berries, another salad, a chicken substitute, and grape juice. When I asked them why they decided to bring their lunch, they both spoke about how “they (the cafeteria) don’t have any vegan options.” Hyman added that she doesn’t “…really like (eating) salad every day.” Both Hyman and Ratchford’s parents prepare their meals for them.
Emily Mendelson (‘18) doesn’t like the “hassle” of walking over to McFall Hall, buying lunch, and walking back to the Café. McFall is too crowded because of the construction, so she can’t eat there; also, she is a self-described slow eater, so she has to be smart about her allotted 30 minutes for lunch. Mendelson admits that when she makes her own lunch, she “really just throw(s) random things into a bag”—which explains her lunch this particular day: baby carrots, trail mix, a banana, cheese slices, and two black/white cookies. She “like(s) to know what I’m (she’s) going to have,” so packing lunch works for her.
People have many reasons for bringing lunch to Collegiate instead of buying in the cafeteria, and the Collegiate community realizes that. Collegiate allows students to decide which works best for them. At Baylor School, where I went to school last year in Chattanooga, TN, we paid for lunch as a part of our tuition, so everyone ate the lunch the school provided. Collegiate, however, gives its students more options. If a student is vegan, enjoys eating in the Café, or loves leftovers, they can opt out of the $122 per month meal plan and choose their own meals.
However, I suspect that students will soon flock back to McFall. The cramped space and long lines are among the reasons for people to bring their lunches, so when the renovations are completed, and the “additional serving line capacity… and a larger dining area for students and faculty that expands seating capacity from 300 to 450 people” (as stated on the Collegiate School website) are implemented, Upper School students who are regulars at the Café might be drawn to McFall. Renovations should be completed by August 2017, so next school year people who have brought their lunch in the past may reconsider. I suspect that the Collegiate meal plan will be more popular next year.
The future is bright for students like Mendelson, because next year she will probably be able to finally utilize McFall Hall. However, this year she is stuck with just throwing whatever she finds in her pantry into a bag for lunch.