Chs School Lunch, a Necessity or Nightmare?


Anna Garrett

For as long as anyone can remember, school lunch has been one of the most talked about topics in the hallways. Students always seem to complain about the quality of food, so we sent out a survey asking students what they liked and disliked about school lunches. Some feedback we got about what students enjoyed eating was that the fruit served is really good, as well as the salads and wraps. When asked what could be improved a lot of students said that the amount of food they give is too little. Following that question, we asked what students would like to see more of on their plates, and we got a large amount of very different responses. Some students said that they would like to see more types of sandwiches, while others said meals with chicken, lasagna, mac and cheese, and different types of fruit like pineapples and strawberries. 

We interviewed CHS senior Oliver Frost who’s been eating the school lunches for four years now, and when asked about the quality of the lunches he answered that he felt they were low quality because the food didn’t have much flavor. He said that he felt like the only options for food was a salad or the same rotation of pre cooked meals. “The food looks like it just came out of the factory and sometimes has a shiny glaze overtop,” he said. He added he would like more organic options Most days Oliver gets lunch, but feels like he can’t finish it because it makes him feel sick. When asked about his favorite food, Oliver said that the chicken nuggets and pizza aren’t too bad. When asked what food he would like to see more of, he said the food we have is the type of food he likes, he just doesn’t like how it’s prepared. He said that sometimes his food isn’t cooked all the way through, and it just doesn’t have much flavor at all. Oliver also said he’d like to have more fruit and desserts like used to be offered at the snackbar. Due to Covid all lunches this year are free for all students, but Oliver said he would rather pay for a higher quality meal than be served poor quality foods. 

After interviewing Oliver we were curious about the effort that goes into preparing the meals served at CHS, so we interviewed Nutrition Manager Jacqueline Simmons. We asked her if she knew what the budget was for school lunches since all lunches are free this year. She said she didn’t know what the budget was, but it hasn’t gone down or affected the quality of meals. Ms. Simmons said that she worked with a student committee before the start of the year to help figure out what students would like to eat. Together, they came up with a cookbook with a wide range of recipes that are simple and easy to make for students. The student committee at CHS taste tested all the recipes, and after evaluating each food the student committee wrote down their favorite recipes, such as the taco salad and berries and cream breakfast. Ms. Simmons emphasized that salads served in the cafeteria during lunchtime are freshly made everyday by our cafeteria staff. The food comes from a merchant in Culpepper. 

A lot of time goes into prepping the food that will be served for breakfast and lunch. Ms. Simmons told us that it can take up to two hours to fully prepare all the food, but it’s cooked in batches in between each other’s lunches. Batch cooking allows for the food to already be prepped, and if the kitchen wants to make more of a certain food during lunch, then all they have to do is put the already prepped course into the oven. 

Students at CHS will be able to pre order their lunch through Canvas soon. This will assure that students get a meal that they want to eat, especially if they aren’t really eating anything at lunch right now. Popular foods like pizza, chicken nuggets, and cheese burgers tend to go the fastest on days they’re served. With the new ordering online, students will have a choice on what meal they want and be ensured to get the meal. Cafeteria workers will be able to see how many entrees they need to make for the day, and all students will have a lunch that they actually want to eat. We asked if CHS was looking into bringing vendors back like Dominos Pizza, where we ordered pizza every Friday. This was a big hit for students and Ms. Simmons talked to Dr. I about bringing this back. She reported that “He’s very good about doing what the kids want from the school.” 

CHS is focused on providing foods that students want will get and eat. Since for some students, this is there most important meal of the day, the school is trying to ensure that students will eat it. “You have to feed the kids the food that they like, so what if it’s pizza everyday?” Ms. Simmons concluded. “If that’s what’s going, serve it! Students aren’t complaining about it.” After this statement, we asked if CHS was planning on adding on any new sides to the meals. Ms. Simmons told us that CHS was considering opening the snack bar again, but they need to figure out a way to do contactless payments. 

A lot of effort goes into preparing the meals at CHS, so next time you’re in the lunchline make sure to thank your cafeteria workers. If you don’t like what the main entree is, try something new, you might like it!