Cafeteria food is judged too critically

The Oracle

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By Elsa Chu and Lydia Zhang:

In The Oracle’s December issue, a school sampling revealed that students consider the cafeteria food to be the worst aspect of school. Over 65 percent of the responses declared the cafeteria food to be between only one and five points, out of ten. While the food is not deserving of three Michelinstars, a D+ rating implies truly horrendous food that is certainly not found in the school’s cafeteria.

While the food is not deserving of three Michelin stars, a D+ rating implies truly horrendous food that is certainly not found in the school’s cafeteria.”

Firstly, there is an impressive variety of food, with at least four daily option like pasta, sandwiches, burgers and salads­. Each meal includes a carton of milk, fruit and additional snacks­, enough to fill even the hungriest student’s belly comfortably. In addition, students can choose to make their own salad at the salad bar, which provides a healthy and tasty alternative that anyone can take advantage of. It is therefore strange that, though the food is both varied and of fairly high quality, it still received an abnormally low rating. Other than the actual quality of the food, there must have been other factors that influenced the poor rating that the school’s cafeteria food received.

Obviously, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) is not the average school district, because of its relatively untouched budget during this shaky economic period. According to the PAUSD Budget Book, the district has dedicated $55,000  to the Cafeteria Fund, which manages food distribution for all 17 schools. The amount of money allowed to each school differs depending on the number of students, but in general there is not a substantial amount of money to sell truly delicious food. Still, taki

ng into account the limited budget available to spend on school lunches, students seem to show unrealistically high standards for the food. The mass dissatisfaction may then be linked to the higher quality of life most students enjoy, therefore making them accustomed gourmet meals.

Though the food is of above-average quality in comparison to that of other districts with fewer resources available, students also may not be able to appreciate this due to preconceptions of high school food. The media, including movies and television shows, often portrays cafeteria food in a very poor light; even though the district’s food is relatively quite good, students may have been unable to let go of past biases.

Another contributor to the low rating may have also been the survey itself. It was formatted in such a way that did not allow for an “I don’t eat the cafeteria food” option. Thus, students who have never even tried the food were encouraged to provide a rating.  Some may have been subject to the biases previously mentioned and  consequently chose to downgrade the meals. The survey cannot be considered completely unbiased, as students who knew nothing about the food firsthand were as eligible in the survey as students with valid opinions about the food.

To be sure, while the D+ rating may be a representation of many opinions, this grade is not an unbiased and accurate reflection of the food served. Those who still have a problem with the lunches are urged to take into account the factors mentioned, and perhaps try the cafeteria’s clam chowder bread bowl.