Limited Dining Hall Access Moves Students Outside for Lunch 


Reading Terminal Market prepares for the coming lunch rush. While too far away to eat at in a normal lunch period, students enjoy the food here when they have the time.

Since returning to school on January 4th, Friends Select Students have had limited access to the dining hall, forcing students outside the building to look for lunch.

Between December 1st and January 1st, COVID cases in the United States increased to 67 million with some of the highest daily cases in a year. The highest concentration of cases in Pennsylvania was in Philadelphia. In response, the administration sent an email on January 3rd detailing how students would return to school in the wake of this massive COVID surge. As part of the new protocols, the administration would “stagger lunchtimes from 1:00-1:20 p.m. for 9th and 10th grades and from 1:25-1:45 p.m. for 11th and 12th grades, ” while highly discouraging eating indoors according to the email. In addition, almost all lunch clubs have been suspended. Most of these protocols have continued even a month later, and lunch clubs have slowly been returning. Instead of having to deal with the limited dining options at school, many students have chosen to eat outside of school. 

Being situated in downtown Philadelphia, Friends Select students have always had access to hundreds of places to eat. Because of new restrictions on the dining hall, students are returning to their favorite food spots. Among the most popular are Wawa and the Liberty Place food court. Wawa has simple sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for relatively cheap. The Liberty Place food court has a more expensive, but diversified array of options from Brooklyn pizza to Japanese teriyaki. Both of these places have seen increased traffic of Friends Select students since the new dining hall policy.

Other students have taken this situation as an opportunity to find new food options. Coleman Wampler 22’ was tired of going to Wawa or Liberty Place every day and decided to try a new place, Naya. “I was surprised I had never been there,” said Coleman, “it was actually really good.” Coleman continues to say that if he weren’t forced to eat out every day, he might have never tried Naya. 

While the daily Omicron cases have started to die down, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for the splitting of the cafeteria. According to Norman Bayard, Upper School Dean of Students, “We have to respond” to the surge of COVID, and this is one of the measures the school is using in response. Norman adds that there is no end to this policy “in the foreseeable future.” For now, students will still have limited access to the dining hall, continuing to eat outside the school.

Joe’s Pizza does its best to stand out on busy 16th Street with its neon sign. Joe’s has gained popularity recently among students.
Corner Bakery sits in the shadow of the Comcast Center. The restaurant is busiest during the morning but still offers lunch that some swear by.
The Liberty Place food court during lunchtime remains busy even during COVID. Liberty is one of the most popular places to eat because of the variety of food available and its proximity to the school.
Students enter into the Wawa on Arch and 16th during break. Wawa is perpetually popular because of how close to the school it is, the variety of food and snacks they offer, as well as their relatively cheap prices.

Naya is positioned away from most of the other food options around the school. More students have been going to it since the new cafeteria rules have been implemented.