Hot Lunch… Do the Students Think it’s Worth it?

While you are taking your classes, you are bound to have at least once had the thought of sitting with your friends and eating a delicious lunch. This is a thought that should comfort you however, for most students, this has not been the case. Over this past week my partner and I have asked the students their opinions on our school lunch that is provided. So here we are, providing you with the positives, negatives, and suggestions that the students have given us in hopes of getting behind and making a change to what has been happening in the cafeteria of Cardinal Newman. 

We will start off with the negative aspects of school lunch, as that seems to be what was discussed the most. So let’s get a look at the food. Most students were unhappy with the lunch provided as they saw it as way too overpriced for something that was below average with the average cost of lunch being $7 all together with one student saying, “the mac and cheese tasted like melted cardboard on plastic noodles.” A number of other students have said that the food has gotten worse over the year, and when looking at the chicken tenders, mostly everyone said at the start of the year that the tenders were delicious, but as of now they are soggy and looked more yellow than its natural brown coloring. All of this uproar has caused some to wish for the old lunch to return, as it was not only more affordable but much more enjoyable too. Whether this has any current relation to the increases in food prices due to Covid and delays are unknown, but one thing for certain; the products produced have been stated that it looks downright “inedible.” The students have also voiced that their lunches were cold, hard, and limited during the 2nd lunch compared to the 1st lunch. Next, we take a look at the lunch experience, and this is where the problem lies the most with students, complaining that their lunches were always being stolen, so they would have to resort to receiving another students lunch to compensate for the lack of their own. Additionally, students also commented on the terribly long lunch lines that they are forced to endure in order to eat. Some even voiced frustration on the issue of line skippers that will cut the whole line to get their lunch first.

Now that we got all the negatives out of the way, it is time to look on the positive side. While some students saw the food as disgusting, others viewed it as a good selection of items. Some even said that they looked forward to lunch specifically because of the varying options. Some favorite items that students mentioned included were the chicken and waffles day as well as the Italian sandwiches, the much debated chicken tenders, and cheeseburgers. A unanimous agreement that should be mentioned as well is that the snacks that are provided from the cookies to the donuts are always delicious and should never be changed. The drinks that the lunch service provides is also one factor that has been praised by the students as they have fallen in love with certain beverages like the Fanta Orange, Powerade, Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, and ginger ale. 

Student Suggestions:

A highly mentioned change that some suggested was the option to leave campus for lunch. With this in mind students proposed that the two lunches should be combined into one so that there would be more time to allow students to do so.  Some have said that this should only be a senior privilege, while others say that the whole school should gain access to this system. Other students wished they could give feedback to the food company in hope of a quality increase. Students have even wished to try a whole new lunch food service altogether after having one too many bad experiences with lunch. Furthermore, the many students addressed reasonable change that  could be a much easier fix. This would include bringing back the free sauce station with condiments ranging from ketchup, BBQ, ranch, honey mustard and more.  A big idea that other groups suggested was to have specific themed meal days for each day of the week, for example, serving Mexican inspired dishes on Tuesdays and Italian inspired meals on Fridays. Further, maybe once or twice a month students could place orders to a specific chain restaurant, such as Chick-fil-A that the school could partner with. Finally, what is good food without good seating? The seating outside was suggested to be a bit bigger as legs are often crossing and bumping in with one another as students sit. 

Student Quotes:

Here are a few memorable quotes made by students regarding experiences and suggestions for school lunches:

  • “The pasta was really hard and cold when I got it” 
  • “I would love for them to bring back Friday flex sports but for lunch” 
  • “I want more fruit options” 
  • “I’d love to have a sandwich/wrap bar” 
  • “What if we had breakfast lunches in the morning, where we could have pancakes”
  •  “Give me free forks and spoons!” 
  • “Why is lunch so expensive?!” 

Lunch is one of the most important meals of the day as it is able to re-fuel and energize students to successfully make it through the rest of the day. It is also important that students are satisfied nutritionally and are happy to eat be eating the food, after all, students spend majority of their whole year in school. Overall, the general consensus is that the luxury of getting hot lunch is no longer as more and more students are beginning to bring their own packed lunch. The students are thankful for the more recent efforts by the company to introduce new meals options, but still hope to have consideration for their thoughts and concerns on the quality of the food being served to make lunch time even more enjoyable.