The effect of staff shortage in the cafeteria


The closed and clean cafeteria after lunch hours on October 13, 2022.

Staff shortages and demands for labor have been publicized at the national level with articles from CNBC and TIME supporting data that the number of people quitting has reached an all time high.

The cafeteria staff shortage at LTHS has affected the timeliness of getting lunch and it is another example of how the food and service industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Usually if you’re getting [to the lunch line] a little bit late, it gets really long,” freshman Ashley Schmidt said.

Additionally, senior Victoria Lopez said that she prefers arriving at lunch later due to the low efficiency of the lunch line. 

“I feel like getting there earlier is such a race, and then usually even if you get there a minute after the bell rings, people are already lined up,” Lopez said. “ So going later during B block, you can get your food in like five to 10 minutes and it’s a lot quicker,” 

The pandemic has put an ongoing issue of finding a healthy balance between staff and student ratios in the spotlight.

“We have had a very hard time recruiting new staff this year,” cafe supervisor Marcia McNair said. “I started out with six open positions and have only been able to fill two of them. When people find out how hard it can be to work in the kitchen, they either quit after a few days or just don’t even show up on their first day.”

Floreina Oliveria, a cafe supervisor at another Frisco ISD school, explains why it is so difficult to recruit new cafeteria staff members, although there are more factors than just the pandemic.

“[It’s] not just the pandemic,” Oliveria said. “Because it’s really hard work, in the kitchen. And then the pay, it’s not that high. Because some school districts or some food service industry pay more. Flexible schedule, unlike in the school district, if you work this time 7-2. It’s always 7-2.”

Oliveria also reflects on how the lack of staff affects their overall service quality and MPLH.

“There’s a thing we call an MPLH, or meal per labor hour,” Oliveria said. “So it depends on how many you serve, on how many people you get. So if they probably lower the percentage, we’ll have more people, less work, but since they are standard MPLH is higher, so less people more work.”

Update: On the administration’s Feb. 25th weekly newsletter Frisco ISD now offers students an opportunity to apply and be employed by FISD in the cafeterias. Students that have late arrival/a schedule available to take a morning shift are eligible and FISD will pay them as employees.