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The Current

Appeasing cafeteria crowd is a tough order

Cameron McIntyre, a junior, fearfully clutches a school milk. Photo by McKenna Hisaw

School lunch has had a repeatedly negative stereotype in American pop culture.

People may think of hair nets, piles of slop, and grouchy lunch ladies, however, here at Bear River, we are fortunate to have a group of dedicated individuals striving to ensure they give out fresh, healthy lunches every day.

Principal Dr. Amy Besler raved about how unique Bear River’s lunch program is.

“I have never worked in a school that offered the caliber of amazing food that Bear River offers,” said Dr. Besler. “Most schools serve all pre-packaged food (like PopTarts and frozen pizza). I was floored to come here and learn that our food is scratch-cooked and made with high-quality, local ingredients.”

Many students at Bear River seem to be unappreciative, or at least unaware of the intense amount of work that the cafeteria staff does each day.

“We do a lot in a three hour period,” said Gale Jones, head lunch lady. “I’m here for the longest shift, I’m here for 6 hours and the other girls are here for just three hours. So it’s a lot of work to do for three people in that amount of time … We do anywhere from about just under 200 meals.”

With any program, however, there are guaranteed to be trials and errors. Sophomore Jaycee Anderson had issues with the breakfast program early this year.

“I ordered breakfast one time and I asked for a bagel with cream cheese, and then the cream cheese was really moldy and disgusting,” she said.

Issues with milk at the beginning of the school year had also been a concern, yet Ms. Jones provided an explanation for the mishaps.

“Milks were an issue in the beginning of the year,” said Ms. Jones. “What happened was our new delivery guy was bringing milks that were only dated for a few days off of when they were getting delivered. We only get milk delivered once a week, so we have to make sure those dates are going to be good for the whole week.”

Anderson also stated that purchasing lunch can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating.

“The lunch ladies are really slow and they are doing so much at one time and sometimes I tell them what I want and they give me another thing, say I want a quesadilla and then they’re like ‘oh here’s your pizza’ and it’s like they’ve got so much going on,” she said.

Part of the reason for the fact that the cafeteria workers are not yet in sync has to do with the changes in staff.

“We’re technically not understaffed,” said Ms. Jones. “This is a four person kitchen, I think what happened is Diana left, I moved into a different position … So we are just kind of learning new jobs.”

Senior Matt Snyder expressed his contempt for the lunch options.

“I just started making my own lunches now because I just don’t like the food anymore … It’s too repetitive,” said Snyder.

However, Dr. Besler could not be more pleased with the recent advancements that the program has made.

“I love our new partnership with Sierra Harvest,” said Dr. Besler. “I think offering a high quality, fresh, local salad bar on campus several days a week is outstanding. I also love the food tastings that Sierra Harvest conducts on campus—they open students up to produce options they may not have ever tried before.”

Senior Chandler Looper stated that, considering he is a part of the free lunch program, he is not as intensely concerned about the quality of the food as those who pay.

“I think it tastes fine, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it,” said Looper. “It’s just school food, it’s good, it’s not bad. I mean, I get it for free, and it’s really good for free, I don’t know about people who pay for it, but I’m okay.”

All in all, the students of Bear River need to comprehend the crazy workload that the lunch ladies take on, and not take for granted their constant efforts to reform and create new, healthy choices for lunch.

“These ladies are awesome to work with, it’s really good teamwork, and that’s a huge part of it, just the communication and helping each other out,” Ms. Jones said.

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Appeasing cafeteria crowd is a tough order