Cafeteria Woes


Adele Sands

The CDS Student Union at the beginning of Upper School lunch.

When CDS unveiled their novel plans for growing and improving the campus, I, like many of my peers, was enthusiastic about what the new building had to offer. As a community, we have learned to embrace the Hayes Family Gymnasium and the Wagner Athletic Complex (the most relatively recent additions prior to the Center for Innovation), allowing for the expansion of sports and facilities for athletes. Although, these spaces are not the equivalent of a learning environment or classrooms, where students can collaborate and share academic ideas. This factor was the main reason students were ecstatic about the Center for Innovation. Not only did it provide more classrooms and flexible collaborative spaces for the students, but it also featured a cafeteria, the main highlight of this ambitious project. Despite the large and upscale campus, Carrollwood Day School has never had a cafeteria, so you can imagine the buzz surrounding the cafeteria and the attention it garnered. However, one must question: is the cafeteria worth all the hype?

Throughout the nine years I have attended CDS, we were never given the opportunity to eat lunch inside, as there was no set location where we could eat inside. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, the only area we could eat lunch was outside, on the picnic tables. The only exception was on rainy days, where we often ate lunch inside a classroom, sometimes even cramped in a hallway or in the theater. Regardless, that all changed when a cafeteria was revealed. The Student Union, or the official name of the cafeteria complex, has many pros and cons, and everyone has unique preferences regarding the Student Union. I’ll be detailing a few here, however, these opinions are shared by many students who attend CDS.

Although the cafeteria provides a nice, quaint, and common area for students to eat, many feel as though it is a bit too cozy. There isn’t enough space to fit an entire grade, let alone the entire high school student body. Samantha B, a freshman, notes “It didn’t exactly feel how I thought it would when we were first introduced to the idea of it last year. It can easily get overcrowded and overwhelming, especially the FLIK lines.” This leads to more students having to eat outside, no matter the weather, due to a lack of space.

Additionally, only seniors have the privilege of eating indoors, whereas 9th, 10th, and 11th-grade students must eat outside, in the Student Union, or under the bridge. For students who like to study and use the internet, some say the Student Union is a letdown. The WiFi is unstable in the Student Union, an inconvenience for students who enjoy working during their lunch breaks. Samantha continues “I can’t even work due to the inconsistent WiFi, making it difficult to complete assignments and homework. I’m always busy after school, so I like to do as much school work as I can in school, and lunch is ideally a perfect window for this. However, the erratic WiFi prevents me from completing homework and various other assignments.” The same sentiment was echoed by Kiara T, another freshman. “The WiFi in general in the Student Union is unreliable most of the time, during lunch as well in my classes.”

Another frustration for many students is the overcrowded and long FLIK lines. We all know that hungry high school teens are not a force to be reckoned with, and it’s apparent in the FLIK lines. There are times when students have to wait 20 to 25 minutes just to be served food, the majority of our scheduled lunch break. Furthermore, many teachers don’t allow their students to eat during class, so it’s a mad rush to be first in the FLIK lines, in order to have enough time to eat. Samantha B has a solution to this issue, proposing “having an app CDS could invest in, with order numbers or even lengthening lunch and shortening advisory” as it would overcome these problems.

Nonetheless, the Student Union has its benefits as well. Especially in late autumn throughout winter, the cafeteria provides a warm place to eat and avoid the chilly weather. Also, it’s a prime location for those who need to get into the FLIK lines quickly and eat their lunch alongside friends, or quickly get to a classroom near the Student Union after lunchtime. Since the cafeteria is indoors, there any many outlet hubs for students to charge their electronic devices between classes.
So back to the burning question, is the cafeteria worth all the hype? The answer? No, but partly yes. It truly depends on your views and perspectives. Do you believe the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, or do the negatives offset the positives? Frankly, it’s quite a subjective discussion, but I believe that no, it isn’t worth all the hype. In my eyes, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. It’s worth noting, however, that CDS has made a monumental step in the right direction and put in an effort to expand our beautiful campus.

What do you think?