Controversy in the cafeteria


Front Row left to right: Lisa Goforth, Kristen Robinson, Lisa Thompson, Janis Surenkamp, Deanna Stainbrook Row Two Left to Right: Tammy Dunlap, Lisa Laglon, Terri Montgomery, Kathie Leenord

Elizabeth Rust, Landon Jones, and Cosmo

The quality of lunches at SHS have a questionable past, but the future’s looking bright. Lunch ladies have been working tirelessly to improve the quality of lunches at SHS by standardizing the preparation of food and diversifying the options provided.
Serving 900 kids a day is no easy task. SHS lunch ladies have a set of requirements to meet with every tray served, and those requirements have to fall in line with the ingredients provided. Distributors such as Gordon’s Food Service (GFS) are responsible for the ingredients the lunch staff receive. With this limited array of food, the lunch ladies must create meals that are nutritious, delicious, and accessible to the student body. Pre-provided recipes make this task much easier, though it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Recipes, while they can be wonderful, can also lead to repetitive, bland dishes. There is also a lack of vegetarian options, which pre-written recipes do not help alleviate. With all the flaws presented, students are bound to make and share their opinions.
Students and staff alike express their discontent with the way that lunches are served at SHS. Newspaper staff have interviewed students who attend SHS about their feelings towards the food. When asked if he trusts the cafeteria food Curtis Burke says, “Not all the time, sometimes it can come out cold or be expired,” and Patrick Hatfield says, “Yeah, kinda, but not all the time.” Based on the images posted on the instagram account @shs_school_lunch, students have valid reasons for their distrust. Given that the food can be less than appetizing, many students choose to bring their own lunches from home, but for some students that isn’t an option. Packing lunch in the morning and afternoon requires resources that many students lack–time, money, and motivation. Expecting broke teens to be able to grocery shop for packable food, wake up early to pack it, and not forget their lunches at school or home is a lot to ask from one of the most stereotypically irresponsible age groups.
When asked what they would change about lunches at SHS, students replied that they would enjoy having access to spaces outside of school, shorter wait times, larger variety, and higher food quality. These are problems the lunch ladies would like to solve. When questioned about the quality of the food they were serving, the cafeteria’s manager Kristen Robinson explained that the lunch ladies are working tirelessly behind the scenes to improve the food being served. The lunch ladies have 100% confidence in the food they are serving. Robinson assured she wouldn’t serve bad food because her own son eats from the cafeteria. When asked what they thought about the SHS lunch Instagram account, Robinson said she hadn’t looked into it much. She claims it shows the worst of everything they serve and was not at all an accurate representation of food at SHS. When asked if there would be anything she would change about lunch at SHS, Robinson replied that she and the rest of the lunch ladies are heartbroken that children are being forced to pay to eat at school. She says that if she and the other lunch ladies could do anything to change this, they would.
As controversial as lunch has become at SHS, the future is looking bright. While some students say that the lunches have not improved much, others think the lunches have improved tenfold from last year. Interestingly, many freshman students believe that the variety and the quality of high school lunches far surpasses the lunches they received in middle school. While many returning students complained about the lack of variety and long wait times, Kristen Robinson of the SHS lunch staff says that the new cafeteria being built will provide a “food court” experience to SHS students. There will be several options for hot lunches including a burger joint, a deli, pizza place, and traditional SHS cafeteria food. The wait times for these lunches will also be vastly improved due to the many different options that students will have. Robinson says the lunch ladies are looking forward to providing students with diverse options and shorter wait times. While the lunches might not be your grandma’s cooking, the lunch ladies are putting in some hard work, so take the time today to thank a lunch lady.