By Priyanka Chiguluri / Editor-in-Chief
Starting my junior year, I was excited to finally enjoy the upperclassmen privilege of easily pulling a sandwich and some fruit from the Grab and Go before heading to the meetings that always seem to fill up my lunch break. However, my excitement was soon replaced by disappointment when I learned that the Grab and Go would be reserved for seniors and teachers this year.
The Grab and Go is the cooler in the cafeteria that has pre-prepared food options including, but not limited to, salads, sandwiches, fruit, yogurt and chips. The Grab and Go is commonly used by students and teachers who have lunch meetings, because they can quickly grab some food and go to their meetings instead of waiting in the main lunch lines.
Before the pandemic started during my freshman year, the Grab and Go was open to all upperclassmen. Following a year of boxed lunches and meeting-free lunch periods last year, lunch is back to normal this semester with its long lines for hot food, salads and sandwiches. Additionally, lunch meetings have once again become commonplace.
Despite the returning normality of lunch, the Grab and Go is no longer a privilege for all upperclassmen to enjoy even though there is often leftover food in the Grab and Go at the end of each lunch. I contend that closing the Grab and Go for the juniors has created a multitude of avoidable problems at lunch.
First, student leadership positions are commonly held by both juniors and seniors, and meetings often occur for those student leaders during lunch. In fact, one of the main reasons the Grab and Go was open to all upperclassmen was because they are more likely to hold leadership positions. The Grab and Go makes lunch meetings more productive because it does not have long lines, the food is pre-made, and the packaging can be thrown away, which eliminates the need to return dishes to the cafeteria.
“I know that seniors are in a lot of leadership positions and need to get to their lunch meetings on time,” junior advisor and Upper School Social Sciences Teacher Dr. Adrianne Jacobs said. “I think that also holds true for juniors, and it can be really hard to get through the lunch line and get food and get back to where you need to be for a meeting in an efficient way.”
Moreover, some juniors, including myself on occasion, skip lunch to make it to their meetings on time, which is damaging to their health. Having quick access to food at lunch is vital for all students who have lunch meetings, and a lack of access to the Grab and Go should not cause students to be late or prohibit them from eating. It is necessary that the junior class have access to the Grab and Go.
Opening the Grab and Go to juniors would also help minimize the chaos in the lunchroom, which would positively impact the Harpeth Hall community as a whole. Every day, two lines of hungry students and teachers wind through the cafeteria, up the stairwell and all the way to the upper Middle School entrance outside the eighth-grade pod, blocking various entryways in the Middle School.
“I think the lunch line is a really inefficient system that prevents students from getting their food, and it creates chaos,” freshman Ellery Cook said.
The lunch lines are longer and messier this year in comparison to my freshman year, and I speculate that the Grab and Go being closed to juniors, who make up over a fourth of the Upper School’s student population, creates larger lunch line backups. Allowing juniors to take food from the Grab and Go would reduce the issue of these extensive lines simply because fewer students would be waiting in the main lines.
I urge Harpeth Hall to consider the importance of allowing juniors to use the Grab and Go. Preventing juniors from accessing the Grab and Go may not seem like an important issue on the surface, but if you look closely, you could see the potentially damaging impacts that closing the Grab and Go for juniors can have on not only the juniors themselves but also the Harpeth Hall community as a whole.