Self-Serve Lunch: Yes or No?

By Audrey Wang

How effective is a buffet-style, self-serve lunch system in a school setting? This year at Winsor, we get a chance to find out. As school gets back into full swing, Winsor has implemented a fully self-serve lunch system with efforts to prevent traffic in the lunch line. 

In the new system, there are three separate serving stations for hot food and one station for pasta. The food staff sometimes helps guide students to each station in order to distribute the flow evenly, but for the most part, students have full freedom. Students can choose their own portion sizes and can get second and third helpings while using the same plate. The wait time in the lunch lines has been successfully reduced; while the physical length of the lines is still the same, people are able to move through them at a faster pace.

This change has positive environmental impacts. In the past, each time someone went up to the lunch line, the staff would give them a new plate, but with the new system, students can reuse plates and reduce water used for washing. Another change is the lack of lunch trays. While the trays allowed students to hold more items, plates would often slide off and break because the center of balance would shift every time an item was added. Consequently, the removal of the trays has resulted in less plate-breaking; in fact, I’ve only seen one plate fall during Upper School lunch so far. Now, there’s less tray and plate washing, leading to less unnecessary water use.

There is one minor issue in the serving stations closest to the sandwich bar, as there can be many people in that area getting hot food, pasta, or sandwiches at the same time. However, as students get more used to the process, the crowding is bound to lessen. Alyssa Quarles ’24 says: “I really like that we are now self-serving for lunch. The lines move a lot faster, and I can grab how much food I think I’ll eat. I really appreciate Chef Heather’s decision to try this new serving method and think that it’s going well so far.” Deedee Ansari ’24 agrees, claiming that “the self-serve system is much more convenient than before.”

Overall, the changes to the lunch process have been well received by students and have proved to be beneficial!