All the world’s a lunchroom

One parent’s initiative has vastly increased the ability for Mac students to eat outside as a COVID safety measure

For+the+second+stage+of+the+project%2C+six+parents+and+four+students+cleaned+up+the+courtyard+between+the+science+labs+and+the+foreign+language+hall+and+added+10+more+picnic+tables.+They+also+added+10+Adirondack+chairs+in+front+of+the+main+building.+

Photo courtesy of Cindy La Greca

For the second stage of the project, six parents and four students cleaned up the courtyard between the science labs and the foreign language hall and added 10 more picnic tables. They also added 10 Adirondack chairs in front of the main building.

MacJournalism news team

What began as a conversation among concerned parents on social media has turned into an overhaul of the outdoor lunch spaces at Mac.

Parent Cindy La Greca has led a volunteer community effort to add outdoor seating capacity so more students can eat outside comfortably at lunchtime. 

“We were all on the Facebook parents’ site saying ‘We need to do something so our kids can be outside as much as possible,’’’ La Greca said. “I just thought we needed someone to get the ball rolling, so I said ‘I’m buying a couple of tables. Anyone else want to?’ And it started from there.” 

The group’s original goal was to get 30 tables, and that effort began the Monday before school started with the installation of the first 12 picnic tables (all purchased by individual parents) in the fine arts courtyard.

A group of about 10, including two students, trimmed and cleaned up the courtyard in the breezeway and put together those first 12 tables.

On the Monday before school started, a group of parent volunteers and two students put together a dozen picnics tables and spruced up the breezeway so they could the tables could be installed there. (Photo courtesy of Cindy La Greca)

After the initial success, La Greca decided to increase the total to 30 tables. Realizing that not all parents have the means to buy whole tables, she decided to enable people to donate money instead. 

“It’s amazing that people were willing to send money to me when I am a stranger to almost all of them,” La Greca said. “They just wanted to help Mac and the kids so much.”

La Greca collected $5,000 in three days starting on Wednesday and immediately put those funds to good use by purchasing 10 more tables and 20 Adirondack chairs. 

It’s amazing that people were willing to send money to me when I am a stranger to almost all of them. They just wanted to help Mac and the kids so much.”

— Mac parent Cindy La Greca

This afternoon a group of six parents and four students cleaned up the courtyard between the science labs and the foreign language hallway, converting it into another outdoor dining space.

“We had to clean up a lot of trash,” La Greca said. “We weeded and cut down some trees, raked, smoothed down a lot of dirt and cleaned out the shed, plus put together 10 tables and put them out.”

The group also placed 10 of the 20 Adirondack chairs in front of the main building. They have 10 more coming, but La Greca encouraged any willing parents to make the $22 purchase at Lowe’s and add one more outdoor seating option.

La Greca has ordered 10 more tables from Lowe’s, three more from Costco that are wheel-chair accessible and trash cans. These additional items are scheduled to arrive sometime next week. 

La Greca wants the students to know that they can adjust the areas to make themselves comfortable because the outdoor lunch areas are for them. She also expressed her appreciation to the school administration, especially Gabe Reyes and Melisa Thickstun in the front office. But most of all she wants to thank the parents for their generosity, trust and support.

“I thought maybe a few people would trust me with their money, but I didn’t think it would be this many,” La Greca said. “I’m very thankful. I want our kids and our staff to be the safest they can possibly be given this impossible situation.”

After a successful installation of 12 tables, 10 volunteers posed for a group photo seated at the fruits of their labor. (Photo courtesy of Cindy La Greca)