She Used to Dread Lunch. Now Others Won't Have To
Teen creates Sit With Us app to help students find open lunch tables
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2016 12:46 PM CDT
Students eat lunch in the cafeteria at Central High School in Memphis, Tenn. Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, William DeShazer)

(Newser) – Natalie Hampton felt "completely ostracized by all of my classmates" at her middle school and dreaded lunch period every day because she knew she'd be sitting alone. She ended up switching schools for high school and making friends, and she didn't want to be "as bad as the people who watched me eat alone"—so the California 16-year-old created Sit With Us. The app allows students to post open lunch tables, and other users can then find those tables and know they won't be turned away. Users must agree to be friendly to whomever sits with them before signing up as an "ambassador," the Washington Post reports.

At her old school, "I tried many times to reach out to someone, but I was rejected many times," Natalie explains to NPR. The experience left her feeling branded, very publicly, as an "outcast." With the app, "it's very private. It's through the phone. No one else has to know." And there also shouldn't be any risk of rejection. The app just launched last week, and people at her school are using it after Natalie introduced it at a school assembly Monday. She says the feedback so far has been "very, very positive." She's been invited to speak about it at the Girls Can Do conference in Washington in November.