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The Lunch Line Dilemma

Why we need to fix our lunch line
Andres Gutierrez

In high school, the lunch period is a crucial time for students to get away from the stresses of the classroom. A time for students to eat food, replenish energy, and hang out with friends. However, the current state of the school lunch line at Whittier High School is hurting students’ ability to enjoy the benefits of the lunch period. The dilemma affects students and staff alike as they experience a lack of energy,  a decreased focus, and difficulties in retaining new information after the lunch break. We at the Cardinal and White club have collected data on campus, held interviews with students and staff, and conducted research via various sources to inform you and provide to you with the steps necessary to end our lunch line crisis.

The Cardinal and White Club conducted a survey which polled 45 different students in the cafeteria and front lawn during lunch. The findings show that over 91% of our student body reported being dissatisfied with the current school lunch line. Students are actively avoiding getting lunch due to the lengthy and disorganized lunch lines. And, over 82% of the students polled stated that they had cut in line in the past week as of November 23, 2023. We can fix this culture of cutting in line with support from students and staff to discourage this behavior among students, and by making sure cutting in line isn’t the only way to get lunch in a timely manner.


Kevin Carreon


An interview with a lunch line staff member, informed us that she is understaffed by roughly 33%. The current lack of security in the cafeteria forces the incomplete lunch staff to supervise the cafeteria in both lunch lines and student behavior. An increase in security for the cafeteria will help our lunch line staff alleviate their burden, which will bring us closer to our goal of an efficient lunch line.

Principal Liggett, during an interview, has clearly indicated that WHS is short staffed and that the entire Whittier Union High School District is facing staffing challenges. The WUHSD is responsible for providing cafeteria staff to each school and is struggling to do so. Assistant Principal, Marco Ramirez, corroborated Mr. Liggett’s statement and emphasized that students must be more diligent to solve issues like disorganization and cutting in line.

So why are students cutting on a daily basis? A large reason for this is due to the fact that students don’t want to wait in line. Many students believe that the line system isn’t working at its current state and this belief drives them to cut in line in order to secure food. Their fear of not getting food or taking too long to get food, which is especially true on Mondays during nutrition, promotes a reason for students to cut. Students also don’t want to wait in line because they prefer to cut in line with their friends as opposed to waiting in line by themselves. Students will tend to be more willing to do something if they see their fellow peers doing it as well. Since there’s no preventative measures to stop cutting, students don’t have a reason not to cut in line.

Utilizing our friends as a control group to collect data, we had them stand in line at the very back of the lunch lines, while we conducted field tests to assess the efficiency of our cafeteria service. This is what we found:

On 11/30/23 (Thursday), Lunch:

  • Four out of six lunch lines were operational.
  • Two out of three lunch carts were in service.
  • A friend joined the line at 12:23 and concluded at 12:38, reporting at least 38 instances of individuals cutting in line during this period.

On 12/4/23 (Monday), Nutrition:

  • Four out of six lunch lines were open.
  • Two out of three lunch carts were operational.
  • A friend entered the line at 10:40 and exited at 10:49, encountering at least 10 incidents of line-cutting.
  • Another friend, joining at 10:39, finished at 10:54. 
  • Notably, many students failed to get food before the nutrition period ended..

On 12/4/23 (Monday), Lunch:

  • Five out of six lunch lines were available.
  • One out of three lunch carts was in operation.
  • A friend entered the line at 12:41 and exited at 12:49.
  • Another friend, starting at 12:42 and concluding at 01:02, reported at least 14 instances of group line-cutting.
  • A third friend, in line from 12:52 to 12:59, also encountered the issue of line-cutting.

On average it takes 12.5 minutes of waiting in the lunch line with a high probability of being cut in front of. We also discovered that the first 15-20 minutes of lunch is the time with the largest crowding.

Andres Gutierrez
Image of a large group of students cutting (Andres Gutierrez)

Whittier High School’s lunch line problem is one that can only be solved with a consistent and organized effort. To finally make a change for the better, we must utilize embedded support, use the lunch carts, add security to the cafeteria, and promote student diligence. It is imperative that both students and staff work together to create a more efficient and enjoyable lunch line experience for everyone at WHS.


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About the Contributors
Andres Gutierrez
I joined the Cardinal and White club because I have opinions that I want to share with the world and I naturally like seeking the truth.
Kevin Carreon
Kevin Carreon, Writer
I joined CW because I’ve always wanted to write stuff and I get to meet new people.

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