Carlmont cafeteria experiences staffing shortages


Ethan Kam

Carlmont students can be seen lined up getting free school lunches from the cafeteria.

School faculty and volunteers are beginning to feel stymied by complications and food distribution logistics arising in the cafeteria.

Starting this school year, Carlmont students were given the option to bring lunch from home or eat free school lunches. With so many students choosing the latter option, staff and volunteers are starting to share their dissatisfaction with the way school lunch is distributed.

Vice-principal Grant Steunenberg explained how pre-existing plans before COVID-19 had already been drawn up to help with lunch distributions and alleviate stress on the only cafeteria in school.

“There’s a building over behind the big gym with metal rails to line people up,” Steunenberg said. “Another place where we planned to give out food was the shed in the quad.”

However, the plan has not been possible to execute.

“Right now, we are in a shortage of workers,” Steunenberg said. “we’re having to pull in students to help distribute the food, and basically ask for volunteers.”

The United States is currently facing labor shortages nationwide within the public school industries. Many of these individuals are still concerned about the global pandemic, while others are still not ready to go back to the workforce. This shortage of labor reflected all over the country is also impacting the Carlmont High School cafeteria.

Besides having the challenge of properly staffing the cafeteria, there has also been an increase in demand for free lunches. As of this year, California’s federal government issued out free lunch and breakfast to all students. The combined staffing shortage and the increase in foot traffic to the cafeteria have put great stress on the cafeteria staff.

“My belief is as a result of everything being free, we have way more students coming in,” said Hector Moreno, the Food Services Lead. “Pre COVID-19, we were doing about 700 meals on a good day. Now, after COVID-19, we do anywhere from 800-930 a day while being short-staffed.”

Pre COVID-19, we were doing about 700 meals on a good day. Now, after COVID-19, we do anywhere from 800-930 a day while being short-staffed.”

— Hector Moreno

To help with the distribution, Carlmont has been recruiting student volunteers to help out. Nathan Joe, a senior at Carlmont, explained how all the staff has acclimatized despite difficulties.

“Though I’m not really frustrated about the lack of staff, I feel it can be managed better with more people,” Joe said. “Still, I think everyone has found their own part.”

With the crowd of chattering students in the school cafeteria, cafeteria staff and volunteers can be seen working in unison to serve hungry high school students.

The last time school lunch distribution was at full capacity was during the pre-COVID-19 times; Carlmont staff and admin have diligently been trying to restore things to how they were before.

With the future uncertain and loss of staff apparent, Moreno is concerned.

“We are not where we want to be but have made do with all the help we received,” Moreno said.