Lunch Rush: A How-To Guide for Emerging from Each Dining Hall Unscathed


Kendall Lowery ’22
Copy Editor and Food Columnist
March 5, 2020

It’s that time of year. Your professors are plotting together to assign all of your midterms on the same day, you have approximately 1800 pages of reading to do by Thursday, and you’ve been telling that acquaintance from geology that “we should really get a meal” since mid-February. Long gone are the days when lunchtime signaled a debaucherous midday break spent with friends. That’s right, it’s officially salad bar season. When you’re ready to interrupt the cycle of pushing your way through lunch lines to haphazardly slap some spinach on your plate and call it a day, I’ve compiled some tips on how to grab a tasty and time-efficient meal at each of our seven dining halls during peak lunch rush hour.

Claremont McKenna
Can’t pass up that express bowl? Maximize your line time by snagging a plate of hummus and carrots from the center station to munch on while en route to your meal. The expo line is usually manageable, and Collin’s lack of compost and trash differentiation allows you to make up for lost time you spent in line. Don’t forget to grab a cookie (and/or dole whip) on your way out.

Harvey Mudd
When in doubt, turn left. Decades of consumer research has proven that our dominantly right handed population tends to navigate spaces in a clockwise fashion, and this inclination is blatantly on display in the Hoch. The rightmost station, also known as Creations, is never the way to go if you want to get through the line and to your meal in less than 15 minutes. Conversely, the leftmost station (Chef’s Corner) is a reliable choice, and its self serve lines ensure that each lunchgoer is pushed through the queue with maximum peer-pressure-induced efficiency. Furthermore, it neighbors Mudd’s extensive ever-uncrowded spice bar if you want to jazz up your meal (I recommend adding a dash of truffle salt to a plate of fries for a distinct sense of pizzazz).

The person swiping in before you is flexing their entire extended family into the dining hall, The Farm Bowl line is already out the door, and you have 15 minutes before your next class. I have two words for you: panini press. The Pitzer deli station is always well stocked, but the press is usually lost in the shuffle. Push through the other lines to the center island between the bagels and the salad bar, and you might just find the perfect way to turn your chilly, disheartening sandwich into a warm, crispy inspiration that will get you through that upcoming Ochem midterm.

Frank’s far-flung location and relatively admirable line dispersal make it the least tumultuous lunchtime environment at the colleges, but the lengthy trek to and from the dining hall still requires an expeditious lunch strategy. Despite this article’s anti-salad rhetoric, I’ll admit that Frank’s pre-prepared salads are a consistent hit. If you find yourself in deep south Pomona, they are a quick and tasty option (I see you Apple Spinach Cranberry Salad).

Opting for a grain bowl at Frary not only saves you time, but offers a template for creative exploration. The line for the dish is normally nonexistent, and you can incorporate toppings such as proteins, veggies, and spices from stations throughout the dining hall. And, if you’re feeling something a little more flavorful, curry usually isn’t too far from the grain station
Honestly, choose the longest line in order to minimize the time you spend feigning discussion at your Spanish conversation table.

Notorious for the most chaotic lunch lines at the 5Cs, Malott’s haphazard energy reaches its peak at approximately 12:17 pm, and any movement within the main servery becomes akin to a salmon swimming upstream. However, if you’re unable to avoid the dining hall between 12:00 and 12:45 pm, there are still a few stations worth the elbow jab or two that it takes to access them. Oftentimes, a line will form at the Grill station when people are waiting on a specific item, such as an Impossible burger or some fresh chips. Hit a quick power pose before you swipe in, muster the courage to push your way through the throngs of students to the front of the line, and snag your desired foodstuffs. Feeling even more daring? Apologetically squeeze your way into the middle of the deli line and snatch a bowl of soup!

Image Credit: My Record Journal

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