School Lunch


Ashton J. Manolian

Carrots served at lunch for chicken patty day

Ashton Manolian and Elise Klapprodt

School lunches have long been the subject of countless jokes. If you’ve ever heard Adam Sandler’s rendition of Lunch Lady, you understand how deeply ingrained a distaste for school lunches is in our society. A fairly recent issue in the US has been obesity, especially in young adults and children. In response to this growing rate of obesity in the population, many laws and requirements have been put into place throughout most school systems in America. The goal of these programs is to provide students with better and healthier options, to promote a healthy lifestyle and in turn, to attempt to lower obesity rates. Although this is a good idea, the ways schools have executed their meal changes isn’t always ideal. Many students complain about the quality of their school’s meals, and end up throwing out their food. Not only does this waste food, but these students will turn to eating convenient alternatives: processed snacks. Students deserve to have access to food they would enjoy, not food they have to pay for and throw away. To find out how local students feel about the lunches at Ipswich High School and what changes they would like to improve their lunch options, a team of reporters went out to the halls of the school and interviewed a select few of frequent school-lunch buyers.

The students chosen to be interviewed for this article were asked a series of questions regarding their daily choices at lunch, but also were given the opportunity to voice their opinions on changes they would like to see in the cafeteria. Questions aimed to asses the amount of food students are required to take would sound like this;  “Are you taking items you know you will not eat, but are required to take?” or “how much of your food is thrown away?” Time after time the questions were met with the same responses of, “I’m taking sides because I have to,” and “I throw all my sides away because the food I am forced to take is not appealing to me.” All the students showed the same dislike for the lunch that is forcibly placed on the trays, especially the “healthy” sides provided for them every meal. One student reported that “Most food on my tray is thrown away and I don’t compost it; I throw it all in the trash,” following lunchtime.

We then turned to the students to ask them how they think this issue could be resolved. One student suggested by agreeing that the selections “are ideal for students,” while another student disagreed, explaining that “The healthy choices provided aren’t really wanted by students; therefore the lunch choices are not favorable.” To go further with this idea,  the students were asked for some solutions to this issue. They were quick to respond with their thoughts. One student felt that “the sides at lunch should be sourced from local farms” to help ensure that the healthy choices truly are as fresh as they can be. Some other suggestions included the addition of rice pilaf and burritos so that students can have a larger variety of foods that are somewhat healthy and liked by many. One football player, when asked if it would be beneficial to take away a fruit and veggie requirement, told us that, “getting rid of vegetables completely would be absurd, but perhaps the lunch ladies should allow us to choose what goes on our trays,” as this would prevent unwanted food from reaching the trays of un-wanting customers, eliminating food waste.

Overall, the school lunches are not a lost cause. Students expressed genuine interest in the main meals, but would like to have more freedom in choosing what foods they are required take and then pay for. Using the feedback from the students, perhaps the lunch program can start to adjust more to the likes of students, while also fulfilling their nutritional requirements. Keeping the students happy, as well as reducing the amount of food wasted every day is beneficial, not only to the school and its budget, but also the environment, creating a better world for all.