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By Lily Wheadon

  The quality of school lunch has been through many ups and downs throughout the course of the pandemic, and recently it received a monumental improvement: the return of the sandwich bar.

  Before the pandemic, one of the most popular choices for school lunch was the panini bar. There, students could order grilled sandwiches with cold cuts, cheeses, and other toppings of their choosing. The panini bar was another casualty of the pandemic, but the lunch staff has gradually been trying to increase the available lunch options.

  Now, with the Masco community returning to a “new normal,” the sandwich bar has been revived, although this time without the panini presses.  Students have their pick of various types of bread or wraps along with cheeses, cold cuts, toppings, and dressings. This sort of variety disappeared with the pandemic, and many students are excited to see it returning.

  “I love the sandwich bar,” said junior Kara Lindonen. “I think there is a good selection of bread, meats, toppings and sauces to choose from. I personally enjoy the hot sauce.”

  Some students, however, wish that the sandwich bar would return to its original setup, with two separate lines and the option to grill the sandwiches.

  “[The school should] bring back the panini press,” said junior Paul Donnelly. 

  One of the other main concerns with the sandwich bar is the length of the lines to get one of these sandwiches. On any given day, there are three or four cafeteria workers making the sandwiches and hundreds of students who want them. This leads to long lines that snake all the way around the back of the small cafeteria.

  Cafeteria staff have had to rope off sections of the cafeteria so the line can proceed in an orderly fashion. Many students feel that the lunchroom is overcrowded and unorganized, but this line could help minimize the level of disorganization.

  The long line for a sandwich is just another one of the many struggles Masco has encountered with the implementation of the National School Lunch Program, which provides state funding for every student to have access to free lunch. Throughout the school year, there have been concerns about both the quality of lunch and getting through long lines in the lunchroom.

  One thing is for certain, though: students believe that the sandwiches are a step up from the available school lunches earlier in the year. The line for the hot lunch has significantly decreased, and less often are all the grab-and-go burgers and hot sandwiches gone early in the lunch period. The fact that so many students are willing to wait so long for a sandwich demonstrates how desirable they are.

  Even in the few months since its reopening, the sandwich bar has received some updates: what was once small pieces of computer paper listing the options for bread, toppings, and dressing has now transformed into a colorful overhead board that is much larger. Additionally, more cafeteria staff have started making sandwiches: four people are making these lunches almost every day.

  “I enjoy [making the sandwiches],” said cafeteria staff member Lori Salvati, “but it can sometimes be a little stressful seeing the line go out the back of the door, knowing those kids might not have as much time to eat.”

  Although there are some concerns from students about the length of the lines or if the panini press will return, the gradual improvements being enacted so far and the enthusiasm from the cafeteria staff give students hope that the new lunchtime favorite will only get better.