Loveable Lunches Keep Cafeteria Staff Busy

Sweaty hands, jitters, constantly glancing at the clock.

These symptoms are experienced by salivating students right before the bell rings, enabling them to rush to the cafeteria to sate their respective appetites.

Those same students devised a top 5 list of their favorite lunches – those which are deemed necessary to elevate their walk to lunch to a moderate sprint. The most popular lunch of course is, you named it, popcorn chicken. This is followed closely by the pretzel ham and cheese sandwich and tangy tacos. Fourth and fifth places are the ever-present bacon cheeseburger and the elusive pasta bar.

Lunches include a student’s choice of milk, dessert and a side.

Students hurry through the lunch line to get to their tables.

“We prepare about 50 more meals for each lunch on the days we know we’re serving school favorites,” said Lisa Caldwell, a cafeteria worker at Penn Manor. “It helps to get kids out to the tables faster when we’ve got extra meals made, ready to be served.”

As far as favorite meals go, the cafeteria workers sing a slightly different tune. The workers’ list of our favorite school foods also starts with popcorn chicken. Then, sizzling in comes the hot ham and cheese sandwich – no pun intended. Third place is where the cafeteria workers’ opinions of food favoritism begins to differ, with grilled cheese being the third place winner. Landing in fourth place is twisted sticks – no pun to be intended there. And finally, in fifth, the bacon cheeseburger.

“When I think about my favorite lunch (tangy tacos), I tend to get very excited and run to lunch,” Kyle Kahn, a Penn Manor senior said. “Me gusta tangy tacos.”

A short animation, by a Penn Manor student, depicting the rush for popcorn chicken. Credit:  Ryan Krause.

Juniors Joey Jackson and Brandon Schuman both claim to be die-hard fans of popcorn chicken.

“I love popcorn chicken SO much,” said Jackson. “I look forward to it almost as much as summer vacation.”

Senior Zach Schaeffer studies the selection of fruit for lunch.

Schuman’s favorites also include the bacon cheeseburger and twisted sticks.

Students of all shapes and sizes look forward to the bell that dismisses them to go grab their meals. The same sensation is also felt when more than 2000 sets of eyeballs are all staring at the clock, waiting for 2:45 to come.

The list of favorite lunches may vary from person to person, group to group, but one thing is certain: popcorn chicken will always reign supreme.

By Ben Embry

Alex Geli also contributed to this story