Cafeteria Starved for Sales

Moanalua's cafeteria sales have drastically dropped since the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Cafeteria+staff+waits+in+teacher+parking+lot+for+students+to+buy+grab-and-go+lunch.

Cafeteria staff waits in teacher parking lot for students to buy grab-and-go lunch.

Kendelle Hung-Ino, Associate Editor

The bell for lunch might ring, but the rush to the lunch lines is nonexistent. The number of school lunches sold this year have plummeted from the usual 675 to a sparse eight. Twenty six on a good day.  

Since the start of the school year, the Moanalua cafeteria has seen its lowest sales yet. Despite an empty campus, all HIDOE schools are required to serve their breakfast and lunch menus via a grab-and-go system. 

Laurie Hayashida, the cafeteria manager, said “about five to eight” students drive to school to buy lunch and on a rare occasion one will buy breakfast. 

A majority of the sales comes from the 20 special education students who are on campus every day. If they buy lunch then the numbers have a chance of totalling to 26, including grab-and-go sales, and 45 when including teacher support. 

“It’s very tough; we are making much lower numbers,” Hayashida said.

All food being sold is from a shipment in March that never made it to students’ plates. Staff are trying to clear out the freezers before any new purchases. But with such low sales, serving all the food is easier said than done. “Of course we are checking expiration dates and things are getting discarded. Unfortunately there has been a lot of food waste,” Hayashida adds. 

Low sales are primarily due to the bell schedule. Students are given a 30 minute lunch break where they have the option to buy a grab-and-go lunch. Many feel it would be a hassle to drive to the school, go back home, and eat all within 30 minutes. The fact that many Moanalua students do not live in the district also makes it harder to find students willing to commute. 

But even for students who live near the school, buying lunch is not a priority, or is simply not practical.

Junior Youya Channel lives in the school district and hasn’t gone to pick up lunch. “It kinda leaves no time to sit and eat since your next class is starting,” he says. 

Tiffany Marn lives a short walk from campus but agrees with Channel and thinks the period is too short. Marn adds that she has “no reason to go to the school and it’s easier to stay at home.” 

Although student sales are currently low, a handful of teachers have been making an effort to support the cafeteria. Hayashida listed six teachers who buy lunch on a regular basis. Math teacher Ellie Stineman is one of the few devout supporters of the school food service program. She has been buying breakfast and lunch at school for several years and decided to make a slideshow to inform her students about grab-and-go lunch. 

“This is our chance to give back to them, they’ve been working just as hard as the teachers…so why not support the cafe,” Stineman said. “They go above and beyond, for now while we can let’s support the cafeteria.”

Moanalua students can purchase breakfast for $1.10 30 minutes before the start of school, and lunch for $2.75 during the scheduled lunch break (time depends on C3, C4, or Virtual 7 schedule). Pickup is in the teacher parking lot near the cafeteria. The staff sets up a tent so nobody needs to get out of their car. Lunch is fresh and warm as an added touch by the staff. Students will need to bring their 2020-21 school ID.

Students who are unable to purchase a meal from the school can still help the cafeteria staff by completing the survey sent to your JupiterEd.