Cafeteria Food: Is it nutritionally worth it?

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Cafeteria Food: Is it nutritionally worth it?

Students often select pizza when purchasing lunch at school.

Students often select pizza when purchasing lunch at school.

Nikki Patel

Students often select pizza when purchasing lunch at school.

Nikki Patel

Nikki Patel

Students often select pizza when purchasing lunch at school.

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Since I’ve started going to school, my mom has made lunch for me and my two brothers every single school day. This includes a sandwich, vegetables, fruits and an occasional sweet that, in the span of a bad day, can make it so much better.

If you deem this as healthy, boring or both, you’re correct. Even if it may be one or both of those things, I still won’t have a school lunch. I’ve never tried a school lunch and I do not have any plans on doing so since it seems unhealthy compared to what I eat on the daily. I’d rather not spend my/my parents’ hard earned money on something that will feel like a pit in my stomach by the end of the day.

I recognize that some people don’t have a lunch made for them every day, and they end up having no other choice than to eat the school lunch. That’s totally fine, by the way. My point is I’ve never had the chance to have a school lunch and can only judge its nutritional value based on the menu given on the daily announcements and the look of it when I go into the cafeteria with a friend if they need company in buying a snack.

On a Tuesday, the lunch options are as follows: two chicken tacos with refried beans and spanish rice or rice noodles and vegetables with an egg roll, fortune cookie, and small beverage, a cheeseburger pizza, bosco sticks, a turkey BLT wrap, chicken soup and/or vegetable garden soup. A variety of choices but none seem particular nutritious. Even something like a turkey BLT wrap, I would prefer not to have as I have no idea what is actually in it.

My argument for that can be countered due to finding out that there is an online version of the menu that includes ingredients and nutritional values. Daniel Lyon, D128’s Director of Dining Services, explained how the district uses “webtrition”, a website for deciding health values for schools not on the National School Lunch Program. He also mentioned the aspect of student feedback that is valued and taken in by surveys sent out and answered, which is taken into consideration for menu changes.

Sadie Schultz (12) eats school lunches often, but doesn’t truly enjoy them. Even though they’re not the most appetizing to her, she doesn’t want to pack a homemade lunch since she can’t fit her lunchbox into her backpack. Another complaint she held other than taste was the lack of vegetarian options offered.

Lily Meng (12) brings her lunch from home as it’s convenient for her. She shares the same opinion as Schult, that the food isn’t exactly appetizing.

“I feel like their healthy options are a bit overpriced…The first thing you see as you go in is the fried stuff,” Meng says.

The fried stuff section’s location depends on where you enter from. While it is actually towards the back near the side door that leads into the hallway, if you enter through the cafeteria itself, that fried section is the first section you see.

Two senior opinions do not match up to Kayla Lorenz’s (9) opinion. Lorenz does not have the school lunch regularly, but just from trying the chicken tenders on a Thursday, claimed that the high school lunches are much better than the ones at the middle school.

Lorenz was quoted mentioning the taste of the food and did not mention anything about nutritional value. My question is how can a student’s opinion include both the delicious aspect of the food but also include that it’s nutritious for them as a plus.

Dr. Guillaume and VHHS administration have the answer to that question with the cafeteria expansion coming in 2020-2021. New food stations, similar to the style of Chipotle and Potbelly, and revamping of current stations such as the salad bar, are in the works to be included in the cafeteria expansion.

“Kids will be able to see the food being prepared and get a fresher feel,” Guillaume said, “We are getting rid of the fryersthe french fries will be baked instead of fried.”

When asked the question of how students will be encouraged to take the healthier options, Guillaume mentioned marketing it and making it look appetizing. He did mention that even though there will be a healthier push, students at VHHS have many options to choose from and the administration does not want to take those away.

The decisions that the school will be making for the future are all solutions that I can get behind on. It seems like the best solution, as long as it is worked on and promoted the way it should be.

By the looks of it, future generations that will be eating in these hallowed halls will have more and healthier options to choose from. Maybe fewer seniors will go out for lunch release due to these options being available. I wish, however, that this could’ve happened earlier, as I leave high school in a few short months without ever eating a classic school lunch, for fear of not feeling very well afterwards.

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