Taking a Bite Out of the School Lunch

Ashlyn Davis

Credit: Nikki Petzer
Credit: Nikki Petzer

Here at Hanover, complaining about lunch is a daily ritual for some students, whether it is about the prices of healthier options or just the general quality of the food. However, Hanover (along with all of the other high schools in the county) does not participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) according to Hanover’s principal, Dr. Gresham. Because of the lack of participation, a more ‘a la carte’ menu that appeals to the age demographic is available.

If Hanover was included under the wings of the NSLP, the foods served in the cafeteria would shrink in por­tion size and many restrictions would be imposed on what could and could not be served according to the USDA website. Even without the NSLP, Ha­nover offers a reasonable variety of healthy foods and strives to provide a much more nutritionally stable lunch for its students.

As the organic wave crashes into popular culture, many students are becoming conscious of what they are putting into their bodies. When stu­dents enter the lunch line they often leave disappointed as a salad costs significantly more than a pizza and a hamburger. The healthier lunch options, such as salads, are generally prepared at the school with local and fresh ingredients, which is reflected in their higher cost.

Ambler helped explain the rea­s o n i n g behind t h e higher prices.

“Just like in a grocery store, often fresher, less processed items are more expensive, likewise with menu items in the cafeteria. Also, the revenue sales have to cover food cost, labor and benefits costs for employees, sup­ply costs, cleaning costs, and small and large equpiment costs,” she said.

Along with o f f e r i n g healthier op­tions for the student body, HCPS aims to use as little processed food

as possible. A rising concern among students and parents is that some meat offered contains ‘pink slime.’ This is the result of a process where meat, previously scrapped as too fatty for human consumption, is treated with ammonia to make it safe for consump­tion. Ambler provides a reassuring re­sponse to this accusation, “We have to rely on labels and a quick review of the product does not indicate that this process is present.”

Vending machines are common locations that students tend to flock around throughout the day to stock up on candy and sodas. Whether Hanover participated in the NSLP or not, the vending machines would be unaffected as they are arranged by the school administration. Although candy bars and diet soda seem to go against the recent health food ram­page, Dr. Gresham explained her de­cision saying, “I do not believe candy bars belong in elementary schools, but I believe teenagers deserve the real world options offered in vending machines; however, I do want healthy options available so the students have a choice.”

Although it may be frustrating that healthier options are more expensive, neither the principal nor the director of food services can change the price of organic ingredients. Packing lunch is a great alternative to buying if funds are tight and healthy food is wanted.

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Author: The Hawk Eye

Hanover High School, Mechanicsville, Virginia The Hawk Eye Student Newspaper thehawkeye@hcps.us

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