For the first time in many years, Belmont Hill has changed its permanent lunch system. Traditionally, middle and upper school students have eaten in a family, sit-down style. At this time, students who normally do not see each other in the classroom or on the athletic fields can meet new teachers and students. While this method has worked for decades, a recent increase in the student body size has revealed several flaws with the current system, namely, food waste and time.
Family-style lunch is an extensive process; waiters bring large bowls of food to each table, then students can leave the table to get soup, sandwiches, and salads from around the dining hall. However, when many opt for something not brought by the waiter, the main course will often go untouched, resulting in an incredible amount of food waste. Since these fully prepared main courses cannot be repurposed, the compost bins pile up with unwanted food. On a similar end, sit-down lunch is a time-intensive procedure. Since waiters are in charge of delivering and clearing up the food, extra time has to be left for cleaning before and after the meal. By contrast, on walk-through days, the salad bar and sandwich station lines move faster, as students and faculty grab food as they arrive instead of waiting for the head to begin the meal.
The new walk-through lunch plan seeks to limit many of these problems. By allowing upper schoolers to eat at X, the last block, or the traditional 1:35 time slot, crowding has lessened, and most are in and out within 20 minutes. Students must go into the kitchen to get the main course directly, minimizing food waste. While lunch used to take a full 40-minute block, without waiters, students can now clear their places in their own time and can choose to leave when they are finished.
Student reception has been exceedingly positive. Leaving more time in the day allows more clubs to meet, enabling students to maximize their time before athletics and other after-school extracurriculars. Additionally, eating at X-block allows upper schoolers to eat earlier or even twice. So far, the kitchen and dining staff have handled the shift well. Mrs. Wu, the Director of dining, remarks, “We have really liked it a lot. We save on not having to set up tables and plate all the food.
Still, Belmont Hill will preserve tradition and hold required sit down lunch on Thursdays. While the student body and faculty look forward to a new dining hall in the coming years, the new lunch schedule is a bridge between that time and now