Waiting and Service Time Optimization During Lunch at Milton-Union Elementary School Cafeteria, Dayton, OH


Waiting and Service Time Optimization During Lunch at Milton-Union Elementary School Cafeteria, Dayton, OH




Long waiting time by itself is a bad experience, but when you couple it with a limited available time to have lunch, that is a recipe for disaster. Milton-Union Elementary School found this out the hard way, as they were trying unsuccessfully to run their lunch process in a timely manner. Apparently, dealing with little, hesitant, uncertain kids about their meal choices, along with the constraint of time was a bit hard to intake by the teachers and lunch worker, ending up with kids being yelled at and continuous complaints by the teachers. There are high school and middle school students in the same building. They are using the same cafeteria for their lunch and they eat before the elementary school. The management stated that the only problem being encountered is with the elementary school students finishing their lunch effectively in a timely manner. There are 679 students in the elementary school distributed over 32 classes. Each class has 30 minutes for lunch followed by another 30 minutes for recess. To manage all schools lunch timing, all students at elementary school must finish their lunch within 90 minutes starting at 11:25 AM. Two lines are there to serve the students and all classes are scheduled to be released in batches with two classes per batch. Those batches are separated by 3-5 minutes as an effort to reduce the long-stacked waiting queue, which normally considered as part of that 30 minutes of lunch. Each lunch line has two servers and one cashier, except for line 2 where there is one more cashier for a limited time only (from 11:25 AM to 12:20 PM). Management believes that elementary students need at least 20 minutes to eat their lunch, otherwise they will consume less of their entrees, vegetables, and milk which means that the kids won’t meet their nutritional needs. Moreover, this often leads having an unsatisfied child for the rest of the day beside the posed long-term health risks to students. Unfortunately, management tried several improvement tactics to have the waiting and service time not exceeding 10 minutes with no success. As stated by the management, that time may exceed 15-20 minutes which is usually associated with teachers being tense and nervous beside having a chaotic environment. Other problems have been disclosed by the management as well. Dining space was one of those problems as there are not enough seats for all students. There are 16 handicap accessible seats that are currently not utilized at all. Too many choices for entrees was one of the problems as well. A third one was the layout of the cafeteria lines that could be improved. The objective of this research is to maintain the average time of waiting plus service to be equal to or less than 10 minutes by April 23rd, 2018. The research will consider the future growth as well of the elementary school to its recorded capacity.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Capstone Project

Primary Advisor

Sandra L Furterer, Daniel J Zalewski

Primary Advisor's Department

Engineering Management Systems and Technology


Stander Symposium poster


Presenters: Saud Abdulaziz M Alshaikh, Emma Raye Trappe

Waiting and Service Time Optimization During Lunch at Milton-Union Elementary School Cafeteria, Dayton, OH