School lunches provide healthier choices

Macy Rice

More stories from Macy Rice

In order to accommodate students’ requests, many changes have been made to the food offered, as well as organization in the cafeteria.

“The biggest change this year has been the removal of the a la carte line,” director of food services Elaine Gaeddert said. “A la carte items are still available with the exception of the hot entreé. I have replaced the a la carte hot food items with fresh items such as specialty sandwiches, salads, food bowls and wraps. The items offered daily are fresh fruits, chilled fruit and a vegetable bar. The line option known as plat du jour (plate of the day) offers made-fresh daily and less-processed foods.”

Gaeddert collected data from students regarding food preferences in a survey conducted last year and based the new changes around the results.

“I believe the students enjoy the food more this year than previous years. I have received very positive feedback not only from students, but parents as well,” Gaeddert said.

In addition to parents and students, Gaeddert said she is pleased with the changes that have been made.

“I personally think these changes are great. My goal was to make good nutritious meals for students and I believe I have accomplished this. I will continue to strive to improve the meals and menus so that students enjoy them,” Gaeddert said.

The proof is in the amount of food waste. Students are wasting less than previous years, which goes to show they enjoy the changes.

“There is less food waste this year than previous years. Students are more conscious about what they eat. Students are eating more fruits and vegetables which considerably cuts down on waste,” Gaeddert said.

Of those who are enjoying the changes, senior Abby Hatch, like many students, eats lunch at school everyday.

“I like how we have more options. The salad bar is a great addition for students who want something healthier than what is offered,” Hatch said. “The first lunch line has a good variety of quality food for the same price as normal school lunches. I appreciate that this is offered and I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.”

Aside from changes made to the food, Hatch enjoys other changes in the lunchroom as well.

“I enjoy the new entreés and I really appreciate that going through the line is less hectic and seems more organized by the staff,” Hatch said.

While Gaeddert determines the menu for each day, she is given guidelines on what kind of items are to be served.

“There are requirements regarding red and orange vegetables, dark greens, legumes, starchy, or ‘other’ vegetables, as well as other requirements,” Gaeddert said.

Once Gaeddert plans out what she wants to put on the menu, she then orders it from one of the schools’ vendors.

“We receive food from three vendors. The vendors are Sysco Foods, Evco [Wholesale Food Corporation] and US Foods,” Gaeddert said.

When the food arrives, it is held until it is ready to be prepared. Then, preparation requires the help of the lunch staff.

“At the high school, there are 14 lunch staff members working to prepare food,” Gaeddert said.