Cafeteria Crisis

Lydia Marcinko & Makayla Alicea, Reporters

A lot of talk around the school is regarding our lunchroom. Questions are being asked such as: “Why the heck do we have to pay for condiments?” “Why can’t we charge?” “What’s with there not being any food left for C lunch?” With almost an immediate response, the lunch ladies are blamed. However, the truth is served and our controversial cafeteria concerns have been answered by the cafeteria staff.

It’s important to understand that the lunch ladies have no control over the lunch menu or the restrictions. Everything has to be government mandated to combat against obesity rates. So why do we have to pay for condiments? Ms. English, head cook of our cafeteria, stated that all condiment and dressing amounts are government regulation as far as portion and calorie count. “You get one condiment for every lunch item.” She explained that it is, “about health, not money issues.” One packet of Italian dressing has 120 calories and 420g of sodium.

Some of you may have noticed, or maybe you have been a victim, of the no charge, no lunch “policy.” However, the truth is, and as described in precise terms on our school website, that you are allowed to charge. Now, there is a set limit. This limit of $8.00 is a ‘grace limit,’ provided the the cafeteria staff. So, you are able to charge, but only up to that limit. After you charge over $8.00, alerted will be sent home to your parents, and you will receive a peanut butter sandwich and a milk. Peanut butter, not jelly, because of the government mandate.

If a student continues to neglect to bring in lunch money, another letter will be sent home, and you will still be able to receive a sandwich and milk. After a third warning, one last letter will be sent home and you will no longer be able to receive the generous ‘grace lunch.’ If you, or your parents, have any more questions about how charging works, please do not hesitate to go on the school’s website and read it! It is clearly laid out, and all questions, maybe ones that have arised and were not answered in this article, can be answered.

Why is C Lunch always running out of food?  According to English, “the food comes in bulk, and it’s a guessing game trying to figure out how much we’ll sell.” Most food cannot be reused because all quality is gone once refrigerated. They cannot make more because all of the food comes in large amounts. Ms. English relies on production records to determine how much to make of the menu items. All lunch menu items are on a five week rotation, so that’s why we don’t get Italian Dunkers every week. Mrs. Keller, Cafeteria Supervisor, spends a lot of time trying to meet all state requirements of meats, proteins, veggies, starches, etc. All snacks, or “a la carte” items, such as chips and cookies, have to be under 250 calories. This, in turn, makes it quite difficult to know how much exactly to cook.

Another factor that is in play, is if students are on a trip of some sort. If there are a lot of students missing, there will be more food, but also more waste. That is not a good thing. It is up to Ms. English to decide the particular amount of food needed to be cooked each day to prevent from large amounts of waste or a large food gap preventing the students of C lunch to get all the food they should have.

You may have noticed the new pizza! It’s a better sauce that is practically homemade. The dough comes pre-made, and the lunch ladies puts the sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni on. It takes about 20 minutes to make, and about 8 minutes to fully cook it.

The lunch ladies do care about what the student body thinks and about our ideas. English came up with a suggestion box that will be placed in the cafeteria, open to all legitimate suggestions for lunch menu items. So, instead of grumbling about not wanting goulash for lunch, you are welcome to offer your respectful feedback via the new suggestion box.