I do cafeteria duty every day at work – one hour of my day spent watching kids eat, smelling that particular aroma that can only be found in a school cafeteria (it is best described as a mix of fake cheese, feet, and broken dreams), and observing the social interactions of teenagers…that last part is where things get truly interesting. There are approximately 700-850 students in my lunch most days, so I see a lot of stuff go down – some of it good, the most of it not…but the one thing that I REALLY notice is how friggin’ cruel kids can be with each other. I see the students who eat lunch by themselves every single day, who keep a book in front of them to have something to do while they wolf down their sandwiches. I see the newbies trying to join an established group at a table, only to be shunned like they were the cast of “Mean Girls” – and it makes me ill. Usually when I see that happen, I go over and sit down with the cool kids, talk really loudly and carry on with them, and invite the person that they pushed away to come and join me at the table. It works every time.
I saw this article yesterday, and I am SO excited – by the fact that someone came up with this AMAZING idea, and by the fact that people are caring about such an important issue. Give it a look:
This 16-Year-Old’s Invention Just Made Sure No Kid Ever Has To Eat Alone In The Cafeteria Again
by Talia Ralph
We’ve all been there, awkwardly scanning a crowd of seemingly unpenetrable groups of friends, wondering where we fit in. While adults can busy themselves on phones and act unconcerned, high schoolers will often resign to sitting alone and getting made fun of, or worse, lugging their lunches to a bathroom stall.
Thanks to an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy 16-year-old, the painful awkwardness of school lunchrooms may soon be a thing of the past. “Sit With Us”, an ap by Natalie Hampton, is one that makes good on the universal bonding quality of sharing a meal.
The app’s slogan, “the first step to a warmer, more inclusive community begins with lunch,” says it all: It aims to unite students over food to decrease bullying and social isolation in schools. To join, users simply create a profile and search for lunches near them. Users designate themselves as “ambassadors” to host open lunches at their school—some even create clubs for people to join.
The use of cell phones is crucial, and not only because most high schoolers are glued to them these days anyway. “This way it’s very private,” Hampton told Audie Cornish on NPR. “And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”
Hampton, a bullying victim herself, is just one of millions of students suffering the profound and lasting consequences, including anxiety, depression, lower academic performance, and even, in extreme cases, violent retaliation.
Though staring at a cellphone all through lunch isn’t recommended, this might be one instance where iPhones and social interactions prove to be a delicious combination.
I LOVE this idea, and I love this app. It’s so great when people use their skills to fix a problem that they see and make the world better. How awesome!! 🙂