By: Gio Mancinelli & Sara Sadreddin
Students speak out about the downfalls of Oceana school lunches.
If you’ve ever been in the cafeteria during lunch time, you’ve probably seen the long lines to buy school lunch. But are all those students getting what they need? We asked students about school lunches at Oceana.
Currently Oceana’s lunches are coordinated by the JUHSD school district, and there are menus available online for students to look at. Oceana offers a “brunch” menu, available during nutrition break, and a lunch menu available during lunch break. The brunch menu seems to offer options for vegetarians and vegans, however there is no nutritional information available online, so it can be a challenge to confirm ingredients and nutritional value. Students with food allergies or restrictions also will have a hard time knowing what to eat since there is no information available. Lunches rotate daily, including options like pizza, sandwiches and burritos. PB&Js are offered every day, meaning that vegetarians have at least one option for food, but it does not seem like there are any vegan options for lunch. And does PB&J really represent enough choice?
Students’ opinions on Oceana’s school lunch reveal a lot about the quality of what is served. We interviewed Heather Simnegar, a vegetarian and lactose intolerant student at Oceana, and she stated “If I had to rate our school lunch I’d rate it half a star. Most of the time I can’t even eat, the food is actually repulsive.” She later explained that, “If there are vegetarian options available it’s rare that they are also lactose free. I can’t eat a pb&j every day, and even those taste old and are usually frozen. I tend to go hungry”. She continued to speak a lot about her unhappy thoughts through the entire interview.
We also interviewed TJ Jones, another student at Oceana that has no eating restrictions. Her responses were similar to Heather’s, saying that one time she got a burger that was so, in her words, repulsive she nearly threw up.
Jonathan Zhang, a student with no eating restrictions, finds portion size a concern when it comes to school lunch. He said that not only vegetarians but all students have trouble getting enough to eat at Oceana. Even if a student orders a vegetarian meal, he says, “They don’t serve the right amount to fill us up.” When asked about vegan meals, Jonathan had trouble thinking of any meals that fit the requirement. “Besides salads,” he finally admitted, “I don’t think there’s anything for them to eat.” We later learned that the salads are vegan but the dressings are not.
We later talked to ASB member Edwin Garcia, who reiterated students’ concerns about school lunch. He explained that ASB isn’t allowed to sell food during lunch because it would interfere with cafeteria lunches, but if they were given the chance “ASB would take the opportunity to sell more things that are beneficial to the student body.”
After hearing opinions from students we decided to interview Graham Cruickshank, a teacher at our school who is pescetarian. His words were particularly insightful, he stated, “We actually have a captive audience, this means we should really be providing some food that’s inspiring. Students don’t always have the best eating habits outside of school so this is an opportunity not only to encourage that but to inspire them. So it would be nice to see some sort of revolutionary approach to it”.
Disgust. Concern. Disappointment. There is an obvious trend of unhappy opinions regarding Oceana’s school lunches. Not only are the lunches unappetizing, they are also not portioned substantially enough, and don’t include a variety that accommodates student’s eating restrictions. Clearly, students along with teachers believe something needs to be done to all around improve our school’s lunch.