New app aims to bring students together for lunch


Roman Treuthart

Aidan Martinez, Manuel Flores, Brian Malconado, Oscar Trapaga, Christian Aceves, and Angel Ruiz socialize during lunch in the cafeteria. They make it look easy, but some students struggle to find a friendly face to eat with. (Note: This group did not use the “Sit with us” app.)

By Roman Treuthart

It is the first day of high school.

The bell marking the beginning of lunch just rang, and you reluctantly head towards the cafeteria. You know nobody in your lunch period, and as you find a seat at an empty table, you realize how alone you feel. The chatter and laughter throughout the cafeteria make you feel even worse.

Now you don’t even feel like eating.

At a school as big as Lane, it is easy to feel small and insignificant. Lunch directly exemplifies this.

Even with hundreds of students around, it can still be hard to find a friendly person to eat lunch with. “Lunch is where I think there is a lot of pressure to have a group,” said counselor Mr. Hoof

Natalie Hampton, 16, aims to change that. Hampton, a high school student in Sherman Oaks, California, created an app called “Sit With Us” that helps students find someone to eat lunch with. In an interview with Audie Cornish on National Public Radio, Hampton said that after sitting alone her entire 7th grade year, “It was my job to stand up and do something about all the kids who feel like this every day.”

The app allows students to become “ambassadors” and post “open lunch” events, which signal to anyone using the app that they’re invited to join the ambassador’s table for lunch.

Sophomore Vuk Djuric, Division 974, is no stranger to seeing students eating alone. “I see them every time I’m in the lunchroom, wherever I go,” Djuric said.

Djuric went on to say that an app like this would be a good idea if it connects “people with similar interests or hobbies,” but he said that the app can also take away the opportunity for students to learn social skills. Social skills are gained through experience, according to Djuric.

Hoof, who first heard of the app on Facebook, believes the app could “do wonders for a student.” He helps students daily to deal with conflicts, and says he does get a few students every year who come to him because they are lonely at lunch.

“Lunch is the time where students tend to feel most vulnerable,” Hoof said. Due to the pressure to have a group, many students end up feeling embarrassed when they have to sit alone. “Sit With Us” may make the process of finding people to sit with easier.

Hoof said that the best thing about the app is that there “doesn’t have to be an upfront face-to-face conversation.” This can be difficult for a student who finds him or herself eating alone. Hoof also said he feels comfortable advertising the app to his students. He said that the app has the potential to be really beneficial for students at Lane.

Lunch time is not always a social hour for everyone. “Sit With Us” can help any student feel comfortable at lunch. Downloading the app opens a world of opportunities, and is so simple. The app is available for download on iPhone and iPad.

“I think something like this is long overdue,” Hoof said.