Vegetarians Would Like More School Lunch Options

News, Rotator — By on December 20, 2011 11:29 am

Budget Cuts and the Healthy Kids Act make providing options difficult
By Cassidy Steines-
In a survey of 179 students conducted on Friday, eight students, or four percent, said that they are vegetarians. For those students, lunch options are greatly limited. A look at the hot lunch calendar for the past two months shows that there are vegetarian options about twice a month.
“There are not many [options], and ones that are, like salad bar, means eating the same thing every day,” said Annabeth Lucas, a senior. Soup is also offered, but often contains meat. “I also hate that there are usually two different types of soup, yet both often contain meat or have used beef broth or chicken broth,” Annabeth said.
Karissa Benter, a junior, agreed with Annabeth, saying that she doesn’t want to have to eat “cucumbers and fruit” every day for lunch.
The students are not just complaining, they are also trying to think of reasonable solutions that would please everyone. “I think a good solution would be to have one meatless soup each day, continue the salad bar, and take out meat when it isn’t necessary in the day’s entree,” said Gretchen Oelrich, a sophomore.
Hannah Bradbury, a sophomore, said that on days where it is possible, the lunch could have pans with meat and a pan without it, which would be vegetarian friendly.
Xena Fitzgerald, a junior, introduced the idea of a school garden. “It would be great to use local produce or food from a school garden,” she said. A lot of students, including non-vegetarians, indicated on the survey that they missed the sandwich bar where they could make their own sandwiches. One vegetarian student who answered the survey anonymously indicated that he/she used to make veggie sandwiches, but now that the sandwich bar is no longer allowed and only pre-made sandwiches are offered, this isn’t possible.
Students are left wondering why the option of a sandwich bar was taken away. The lunch on line including the salad bar, which is also a reimbursable lunch by the state, must meet federal guidelines for calories, fat, and sodium, among other things. Because of this, portion sizes are limited, so the lunch ladies can no longer put out sandwich bar because the portions are not controlled. Pre-made sandwiches are the only sandwich option now. Lunch worker Kris Abodeely said that they do what they can to meet the needs of vegetarians and give out bread to individuals who would like to make a sandwich without meat.
“I feel like the school does what they can to make it easier to feed vegetarians and vegans,” said Lucy Conroy, a freshman who is a vegetarian. “I understand that it would be a little difficult for them to accommodate to vegetarians and vegans when it’s a choice. I do, however, think that some more options would be appreciated by all the vegetarians and vegans in the school.” Many other students surveyed said that they were content with the options that are provided at lunch.
Mrs. Abodeely said that the lunch workers do care about the vegetarians, so they make sure they always provide lettuce, fruit, vegetables, and cheese for protein. She said the Healthy Kids Act affects what can be served on the a la carte line. Because of this, the school can no longer sell the monster cookies they used to make. Peanut butter is not an option because of peanut allergies.
In previous years, there has been an alternative lunch option. If the school still offered the second lunch option, that alternative could possibly be a vegetarian option. But, Mrs. Abodeely said that because of budget cuts, the alternative lunch was no longer possible. It was possible before because they had one more lunch worker, but they lost her when the budget was cut. With these restrictions, Mrs. Abodeely said that the lunch workers are doing their absolute best to provide for the students.


Premade ham sandwiches are provided on the salad bar Dec. 20. The school can no longer offer a sandwich bar because the Healthy Kids Act requires strict portions. Photo by Alaina Risse.

Generally in the surveys, students were pleased with the lunch options provided and appreciate what the lunch workers do. But, the vegetarians said that they would very much appreciate more vegetarian options for soups and main lunches.

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