Cafeteria vends out new problems to students

Stella Feinstein

From a new vending machine to long lines, the CHS cafeteria has seen its fair share of changes this year.

As the 2022-2023 school year began, students noticed a void in the cafeteria –– the vending machines were nowhere to be found. To students’ delight, the machine was swiftly replaced during the year.

Sophomore Christie DeNicola of Tinton Falls recalls the moment when the vending machine was replaced after its absence.

“I was an avid user of [the vending machine] whether it was during lunch or after school,” DeNicola said. “I was in gym and we all watched the new one get put in. You could hear cheers coming from the whole class.”

While many students were happy about the installation of the vending machine, their excitement quickly dissipated when they realized the machine did not work.

However, after the short delay, the machines are now up and running, according to CHS Principal James Gleason.

“I do know it’s taken quite a while to get the vending machines, but I’m not aware of the maintenance issues or whatever the case might be, but if there were, they’re all settled now,” Gleason said.

Gleason adds that he is working closely with Pomptonian, the new lunch provider that oversees the vending machines, to install a second machine.

As Pomptonian settles into serving food at CHS, students have one complaint –– the lunch lines. Pomptonian employee and CHS cafeteria worker Amy Pinto says that the lunch rush that was previously split in two has been combined and is on average a 30 minute wait.

“We’re supposed to have a first one at 10:30, and a second at 11, but we actually see mostly everyone come in that first half,” Pinto said.

One solution has been generated by the student body: the CHS lunch schedule reverts back to tradition. This would mean upperclassmen line up at the first lunch bell, while underclassmen wait until the second.

Senior Katie Schwartz of Ocean Township is a supporter of this idea.

“The lunch lines are definitely getting out of hand,” Schwartz said. “It used to be better when people would stick to the scheduled times, but now that everybody’s just running to the lunch line you end up not getting your lunch until 10:45. It’s impractical.”

Underclassmen are supportive of dividing the lunch schedule once again but are worried that there will not be enough food by the time they get in line.

Sophomore Savannah Bennett of Keyport believes that Pomptonian does not understand the lunchtime food demand.

“The lunch line is always so long because freshmen and sophomores get lunch during the first half,” Bennett said. “But if they try to get their lunch second half, the food is literally gone. The lunch service should make enough food for everyone so that the lunch lines don’t extend to the back of the cafeteria.”

There may be no strict way to enforce a grade-based lunch schedule, but sophomore Siofra King of Atlantic Highlands proposes a solution:. She believes vending machines that provide snacks would be helpful in maintaining shorter lines.

“If we had vending machines with actual food or bake sales that are actually during the lunch break and not at the end of the day, not everyone would rush to the lunch line, and [upperclassmen] would get their lunch quicker,” King said.