Appreciating the Minimalist Lunch

Arnold von Engelbrechten '19, Staff Writer

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University’s schools longstanding tradition of the “minimalist” lunch is an established custom that has become part of the culture at least in my time at US. Despite the lunch’s good intentions, unfortunately the whole day is plagued with rude and condescending comments, from both freshman and upperclassmen alike. While waiting in line for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich one can always hear a string of expletives followed by, “just because someone is poor in East Cleveland doesn’t mean I should suffer.” These students miss the point of this practice entirely.

The ultimate goal of this experience is to create an environment of respect for poor communities and have a communal moment of our own. Running parallel to this day is the three-week long annual funding for the Mount Pleasant Valley community and the lunch box packing after lunch. By having donations, the boxing, and the lunch, the goal is to instill a sense of thoughtfulness and consideration into the student body, and for the most part it works.

Yet, I do still empathize with the unwitting freshman who hears the morning assembly announcement about the lunch. The Monday prior to this Tuesday tradition, the administration announced that it would be inappropriate for upperclassmen to go out to lunch or have lunch ordered to the school, however, endorsed the idea of “snacks” to hold oneself over throughout the day. In my eyes, this confusing message ruins the entire point of this “day of understanding.” One either prohibits students from eating snacks and going out to lunch or allows both. If the point of the day is to create an environment of respect and understanding toward these poor communities as well as to have a communal moment in school, allowing students to eat snacks during the day compromises this goal completely. How can one try to understand the plight of the poor if they can just buy snacks throughout the day, something which these poor people cannot do!

Despite, this confusing message, I think that overall the school does a good job at conveying the meaning of this day to the student body. The objective of that day stretches beyond the simple-minded idea that many have of “trying to feel like poor people,” but instead is to have a moment in our University School community for bonding and sacrifice.

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Appreciating the Minimalist Lunch