Is School Food Really That Bad?


Annabel Granger

Charlottesville High School’s cafeteria workers are an undercover source of good in our community and work hard to supply nutritious food to the student body. Virginia passed a law mandating free lunch for all public school students, increasing the demand for school lunches. Ms. Simmons, the Cafeteria and Nutrition Manager, says, “Since more lunches are being served and prepared, the budget had to go up to match the demand.” Despite the budget increase, food quality is just as fresh as before. This includes fruits and vegetables that make side salads and desserts. 

Ms. Simmons also shared about lunch and breakfast distribution over quarantine. She stated that “buses would go to sites around the community and deliver hundreds of prepared meals to students.” Students and families relied on this food for their lunches and Ms. Simmons and the other cafeteria workers and volunteers, “would try to keep the food warm, and fresh, but would have trouble always creating well-balanced meals.”

The cafeteria workers strive to meet students’ wants by giving them the opportunity to create personalized lunches along with the ability to cut the line. To access a personalized lunch, there is a QR code located outside of the kitchen where you can choose what you want or do not want for lunch. Another way students have influenced lunch is by creating a number of meals they wanted to see. This is called “Student Choice” and many popular meals have been prepared through this committee. Through a student choice option, and the option of a personalized lunch, there is less food going to waste. 

Although offering this option has been an improvement, and has given the opportunity for a larger menu, students often complain about the insufficiency of choices and how the meals do not meet their needs in terms of food restrictions. Junior Jolie Dettra relies on school lunches every day and states “the quality (of food) can definitely be improved and there should be more options for vegetarians, vegans, and those with religious restrictions.” Many students feel this way, and believe that there should be a wider range of options for both meals and beverages.

Many students are still cautious and hesitant about school lunches, due to rumors and misconceptions regarding the quality of the food. But this resource is essential for over half of the population at CHS. The cafeteria workers work to provide food that students enjoy and satisfy the hunger and nutrition needs of each individual.