Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Survey Says: Anonymous Reviews of Friends Select’s Dining Hall

Friends Select School’s dining hall is open and operating for the majority of every school day, dishing out a wide variety of meals and snacks to satiate the students and staff. 

If the FSS community has breakfast, snacks, and lunch at their fingertips, is there a reason that so many choose to take their business elsewhere?

Before addressing the dining hall itself, it is important to note that each member of the dining hall staff is friendly, helpful, and they make their multifaceted jobs look seamless. Facing droves of hungry, irritable teenagers twice a day (every day) is no easy feat. According to the anonymous survey sent out on December 8th, the 89 upper school students and faculty have only positive things to say about the dining hall staff, and, frankly, this is incredibly well-deserved. 

Margaret Smith, Upper School Director of City Curriculum, raves about the dining hall service. “The dining hall employees are great – they are always helpful, friendly, and accommodating when you need help with anything.” In fact, the words, “friendly and accommodating” appear – verbatim and unprompted – multiple times in the form. 

Regarding the food, however, the dining hall routinely seems to fall short in the eyes of the Upper School community. The Friends Select dining hall has undergone multiple changes over the past couple of years: switching catering companies; accommodating hot and cold lunches and changing the payment system to create a single, cumulative yearly debt (originally, individuals were responsible for allotting a budget directly into their school account). 

The dining hall features a standard rotation of foods. Students can choose (depending on the day) among pasta, chicken fingers, french fries, cakes and desserts, salty snacks, a variety of juices and teas, and a loaded salad and rice-bowl bar, to name the most recurrent. From personal observation, individuals choose between stations relatively equally. 

To put it simply, the dining hall is never empty. 

The first problem addressed in the survey, however, is the necessity of timeliness. According to a number of people, if you are late to the dining hall by more than 5-10 minutes, many appealing lunch options are gone. Sarah Gorenstein ‘24 addresses this issue. “Whenever I arrive at the cafeteria there is hardly any food left and sometimes things are cold. Especially if you’re walking over from the other building, it’s pretty much guaranteed you are not going to get what you want for lunch.”

Many find the recent options repetitive and wish for more variety, or reminisce about previous dining hall selections over the years. Some even struggle to find foods that suit their diets and nutritional needs. 35% of the survey respondents express that the dining hall offers too little variety, and 30% feel that the cafeteria does not offer enough healthy lunch options.

Offering a positive view, Jasmine Gibson, an Upper School Guidance Counselor, says, “I really enjoyed the Mediterranean options the dining hall provides. I enjoy exploring meat alternatives. The hummus, olives, and lamb have been great.”

Alternatively, Jillian Waldman, Ninth Grade Physics Teacher, admits to recent disappointment. “I miss the frequency of fish and tasty vegetarian options that I remember from my first year here. I’m also frustrated that pre-k never gets offered the chicken nuggets or fish fingers because they’re not part of the main entree, and there’s never plain pasta for them, so they just eat peanut butter sandwiches every day.”

Tiko Morris-Louis ‘24, and Robbie Becker ‘26, confess to missing the “variety” of the hot shelves, as they are now just “chicken nuggets and fries”. 

Members of the Upper-School community also struggle with the prices of the food, the lack of price labeling on food items, and the options for payment methods. Nearly 80% of respondents say that they would like to see the prices on the foods they are purchasing. 64% say that the prices are altogether too high. 

Janis Ng, ‘24, also wants an additional payment method. “They should also take credit cards instead of just cash and school accounts.”

As for variety, students anonymously reported foods and beverages that they would like to add to the dining hall selection: Wawa’s flavored milks, Halal, sushi, energy drinks, kombucha, potstickers, burritos, and greek yogurt. Some of these items may be impractical, but there is nothing wrong with wishful thinking.

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About the Contributor
Niamh Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Niamh Williams is a senior at Friends Select School and a co-editor-in-chief for The Falcon. Her beats are history, math, and English curricula. She is also a leader of the Quakerism Club.

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