Every day, many students and teachers buy food at the school cafeteria. It’s certainly edible, but the question is, how does the cafeteria stack up when it comes to healthy choices?
We interviewed Lashawna Coleman, the parent of a third grader, about the cafeteria food. She believes that the cafeteria is making an effort to accommodate vegetarian customers, but they still do not provide balanced vegetarian meals. She says that the prices are competitive for what is offered, but that they should not sell sweetened drinks. She thinks that there should be calorie counts on menu signs, and we agree. After all, no one is going to go out of their way to see how many calories they are consuming. Fruit is usually close to the checkout line, but should be closer to the center of the lunchroom where people will notice it. Presentation of food is important, she says, and is a factor in whether or not people buy healthy food.
One thing the cafeteria needs to do better is seasoning. Dishes are usually either bland or overloaded with salt or cheese. We do feel they have been making an effort to provide healthier options, but maybe people would eat them more if the bananas weren’t always spotted with black and the apples mushy. Several people, and we agree with them, think the cafeteria needs a major renovation. The weird yellowish-beige of the walls and the chipping Formica-topped tables aren’t exactly endearing. There’s a difference between “quaint” and “trashy”, and the décor is definitely on the trashy side. Yes, we know that compared to some schools, our provided food is Michelin-star worthy. And yes, we know that we do not have the stereotypical lunch lady slopping mystery meat into trays and pushing it along the conveyor belt. But we also know we aren’t exactly eating food that Mori Moto would have been proud to churn out.
The food is just plain unhealthy. If you look at the calorie counts on the wall, one tablespoon of caesar dressing contains 180 calories! We all know that people put about 5 tablespoons of dressing on a salad just to mask the taste of decaying plant fibers. The marinara sauce leaves about an inch of oil at the bottom of the trays. We frequently feel the need to cover up flavor with lots of powdery, strangely sweet Parmesan cheese.
All in all, the cafeteria food is not impressive, and all the effort in the world could not make anyone want to spend their life eating this stuff.
By Chloe Smith-Frank and Thea Applebaum Licht