My company scheduled an HR presentation during the lunch hour. It was not technically mandatory, but I needed to at least get the handouts. Since it's during the lunch hour, they announced they would be providing pizza.

I have some dietary restrictions, which my manager is aware of. Since he had arranged food for me before (from the same pizza place), he told me he'd let the presenter know what to order. Hooray!, I think, and don't pack a lunch like I normally would.

However, when I arrive the presenter says, "oops, we forgot your food" and starts the meeting!

As an aside, the only food I can get onsite is soda and candy. The round trip for "real food" is half an hour and I had back to back meetings that afternoon, so I couldn't just run out afterwards.

I ended up staying because I wasn't sure what else to do, but this meant my lunch was a can of soda... Clearly I'll survive, but I was irritated and had trouble focusing that afternoon as a result.

Would it have been unprofessional to say "ok, thanks for the notes, see ya"? (Is there a more graceful way to do that?) Or was it my fault for having special needs / not having a backup, and the professional response is "deal with it"?

(After this, I plan to bring a backup lunch, but I'd still like to know what would be appropriate to do in this situation -- if they had said "oops, forgot the pizza" I'm sure many people would have left, but since it was just me I didn't want to look like a Special Snowflake™.)

  • 1
    I think you can leave.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 15, 2017 at 22:40
  • 13
    I'd argue that it would be unprofessional of them to fail to provide your lunch and expect you to work the rest of the day without food. Most of us tend to be somewhat irritable / unproductive without some kind of meal midway though the day.
    – SWalters
    Jun 15, 2017 at 22:51
  • 6
    The simple answer is if it is not mandatory then it is fine to leave. The manager is aware of your situation and all you really need to do is tell the manager that you need to go get something to eat. Should not be a problem. Jun 15, 2017 at 23:29
  • I would have tried talking to them about ordering my food on their bill. (As you don't have time to run out later and they would have ordered anyway). Which means they have to pay additional delivery fees for the fact that they forgot your food.
    – skymningen
    Jun 16, 2017 at 6:46
  • Would it have been unprofessional to say "ok, thanks for the notes, see ya"? -> I guess not. He basically told you he doesn't give a flying f*** that he forgot your food and simply started the meeting. How's that for being rude, eh? :/ Jun 16, 2017 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


You have a number of options, many of which are better than "See ya!".

  1. Say "I have to get some food. Do I absolutely have to be here for this, or will the notes tell me what I need to know? Can you fill me in later?". Any boss who doesn't let you eat when asked is going to be a pretty nasty one.
  2. Stay through the meeting, and when it's over go out and get some lunch. Obviously this works only if you don't have items in your schedule for right after lunch. If you do have things scheduled right after lunch, it should add extra weight to option 1 being accepted.
  3. Ask your boss if you can order food you can eat (from the pizza place) and put it on expenses. Make the call yourself and get it delivered. Treat it as an expense to be reimbursed.

A lunch break is legally mandated in the US. While they could reasonably make you wait until after the meeting to take your lunch, they can't make you skip it.

  • 1
    I also wonder if this may not be an HR issue. Depending on the reasons for the dietary restrictions, this "OOPS" could have possibly causes harm to the OP. Obviously they managed to survive, a lack of food all day even under normal circumstances can cause issues for a person and may even pass out driving home.
    – ggiaquin16
    Jun 15, 2017 at 23:23
  • 1
    First question from HR is going to be "How did you try to resolve this?". If the answer is "not at all" then not much will happen. Jun 16, 2017 at 0:19
  • @ggiaquin No medical danger, fortunately - definitely would have left if that were the case! As it was, just grumpy but worried about being rude.
    – user812786
    Jun 16, 2017 at 1:39
  • @ggiaquin if skipping lunch causes you serious issues, including passing out, then you have a health issue that should be addressed. That's not normal.
    – Kat
    Jun 16, 2017 at 2:53
  • 2
    4. "HR person, I'm afraid I didn't bring a lunch today and can't leave to get anything this afternoon. Could you order the pizza now so it will arrive by the end of the meeting?" That might not work if the pizza place can't do a large job that quickly, but at least try!
    – mkennedy
    Jun 16, 2017 at 18:36

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