Cafeteria Food; There’s More Than “Meats” the Eye

On account of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) repeatedly including more and more federal guidelines towards school lunches, there seems to be a decline in the number of students who are satisfied with the quality and quantity of school lunch. Claims have been made by students, such as “The meat is fake!” Or “The cheese is fake!”

So, I met with the Cafeteria/Lunch Administration and had a chance to hear what they said about our school food.

To begin with, there are certain meal plans that are set up by the USDA which, by law, have to be followed. For example, a high school student is required to be served between 750-850 calories daily and must consume less than 1420 mg of sodium daily. There are five required food groups that must be offered, including; Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Meat/Meat Alternate, and Milk.  With the guidelines that are set in place and the budget limit, CHS Dining Services Manager April Carr mentioned that it’s difficult to try to incorporate a variety of different foods. However, she manages to switch up the unpopular items and alternate different foods to match what students like, while still following the guidelines. For example, she’s tried Flavored Pancakes but they have not been very popular, so she’s going to try a new egg scramble.

The “No Thank You,” bin is frequently overflowing. Food is being wasted, however if the fruit in the bin is still in good condition, it is washed and re-used the next day. If a certain food such as tomatoes, lettuce, or beans are put out nobody even touches them, they still have to be thrown out because they are classified as “potentially hazardous foods.” A research study conducted in Los Angeles determined that $100,00 worth of food was being wasted in a single day! This has nothing to do with school policy, but federal guidelines. The school’s job is to offer what is required but what the student does with the food, lays in their hands.

There are always complaints about how “fake” our food is, or that “it’s such bad quality.”

However, these claims are simply not true. According to Carr and CHS Dining Services CLSF Supervisor, John Waker.

Where does our food come from?

  • Cheese: 100% Land O’Lakes & Tillamook
  • Chicken (frozen): 100% Tyson Meat
  • Hamburgers (pre-cooked): 100% Beef
    • The reason the hamburger patties are pre-cooked/frozen, is because it is very dangerous dealing with raw food.
  • Pizza: Costco
  • Bread: Fred Meyer
  • Fruit of the Month: Warehouse/ Commodities
    • Watermelon
    • Strawberry
    • Pear
    • Plum
  • Milk: Darigold
  • Produce: California (best produce when school is not in session)

I personally think that students aren’t complaining about the quality of the food, it’s the fact that as a society we have gotten so used to eating junk food, that’s all we want to eat. Not fruits, not vegetables, not sandwiches, but McDonald’s, Taco Bell, etc.  

Carr,  says “ Come in and see, we have nothing to hide.”