No one eats alone

A special lunch, although awkward, made everyone feel included.


Cadence Kilmer

Student council members marked the middle schoolers hand while they got into the line for lunch.

By Angel Zheng, Cannon Falls High School

Awkward stalls in conversation abound as the middle schoolers walked toward their tables. Entering into the lunchroom on February 21, middle school students were met with unusual circumstances. Colored cards decorated the tables and student council members marked the hands of everyone in attendance with markers indicating where they were to sit. The source of this unusual sight? No One Eats Alone Day.

This was the second year that it has been done and improvements are still being made. Student council adviser, Laura Burvee, claimed that this event is helpful in forming a community where students are happier.

This event was only for the middle schoolers of Cannon Falls. The colored marks put on the student’s hands were to represent where they were to sit. Many feel that this event is important because, oftentimes, people are left to sit by themselves at lunch. No One Eats Alone Day sends a powerful message to all students reminding them to include everyone and gives those involved an opportunity to branch out, meet new people, and make new friends.

There were many colors like yellow, gray, blue, and green that marked the hands of 6th-8th grade students. Each grade had a separate table for the different colors since 7th graders and 8th graders have combined lunch. The 7th graders sat at one of the colored tables while the 8th graders sat at the exact color but a different table. 6th graders had one table per color because they have fewer people.

Student council member, Morgan Brandel stressed to all of the students, “Please, keep your color.” This is an important part of the process because if the students changed their designated color it would make it like a normal lunchtime where everyone sat where they pleased. It’s important to learn about other people some may not know about. Depression and isolation would lessen.

Everyone was required to stay at their table for 15 minutes to eat and converse with their table mates. If the conversation didn’t come naturally, they could read a paper that was placed in the middle of the table and covered with conversation prompts. However, this didn’t always work. “I got the light blue color and it was awkward,” a 6th grader Cindy Zheng commented.

Awkwardness is normal for teens when they have to go outside of their comfort zone. People who spend time socializing with others don’t have this problem though. No One Eats Alone Day gave students the opportunity to make friends because everyone is forced into an awkward situation together. On each table, there were a few green slips of paper to be filled out with information that people learned about their peers at their table. There was a paper tree trunk taped up in the atrium for students to stick the leaves too.

The awkwardness of the conversations and the colorful cards paid off. Many people dreaded it, but they made it through. And although they won’t admit it, they probably secretly enjoyed that abnormal yet wonderful lunch.

This story was written by a member of The Torch, the middle school section of The Lantern.

This story was originally published on Lantern on March 10, 2020.