Written by: Dave Zhu
Something new is brewing at Gunn High School. Renewed, revamped and fresher than ever, the school lunch menu has improved this year with tastier and healthier options. These new choices were suggested by the Gunn Student Executive Council and various parent groups. Better in both health and taste, the new entrees this year are well worth the relatively meager 25 cent increase.
According to Nutrition Services Director Alva Spence, many more students have been eating school lunches now than they have in previous years. In a survey The Oracle conducted with 118 students, 63 percent of students who experienced last year’s lunch menu said that they were more likely to eat school lunch this year. The results can be seen everyday, as the lunch line has grown so considerably since the start of the school year that the cafeteria staff has had to open up several stations. Not only does this show the overwhelming satisfaction with the new menu, but it also shows increased demand for the higher quality meals, which will ultimately increase the cafeteria’s revenue in the coming months. It is a win-win situation: the cafeteria receives the funding it needs to support itself and students happily walk away with tasty lunches.
With the improved quality of the lunch menu comes increased nutrition. The new menu entrées are annually reconsidered for healthiness, and the culinary restructuring this year has been the largest one yet. In an increasingly health -conscious community, the district has been successful in keeping up with the nutritional wants of the student body, offering foods like teriyaki chicken and tortellini instead of the daily dry burger.
Along with the general improvements in food quality comes a price. The cost of school lunch has risen from $4.25 to $4.50, a 25 cent increase. But according to Spence, the price increase is necessary to maintain a positive balance with the costs of organic ingredients, as well as to accommodate the extra staff required in preparing the new entrées. That said, 54 percent of students surveyed felt that the increase in price was a fair trade-off for the improved lunch menu, and the substantial increase in lunch sales proves that many are willing to pay a little extra.
However, a glaring problem remains. Due to the student body’s heightened demand for school lunch, lunch itself has become less and less accessible as the line has grown too long for students to wait. In the survey, 92 percent of students were motivated to leave the lunch line because of the extended waiting time. However, the staff was able to create a simple yet effective solution. To combat the inefficiency of lunch distribution, the cafeteria set up an extra lunch stall outside that serves the same food as the indoor cafeteria does and will open more if the need arises, a plan that will allow students quicker access to their meals.
Overall, the substantial increase in the lunch menu’s healthiness and general appeal is well worth the extra 25 cents. Also, unlike the previous cafeteria options, the new selections promote a healthier diet. The school is now effectively fulfilling its duty to serve the student body with tasty and nutritious selection of lunch foods in order to improve students’ eating choices. Even with a marginal price increase, the school food this year is an exceptional choice for lunch.
—Zhu, a junior, is a reporter.