Lunches change, students don’t

With lunch being the highlight of a typical student’s school day, major changes in the menu shouldn’t be expected to go unnoticed. The only problem is, Central’s students aren’t doing anything to change it. It seems to me that when an opportunity like this comes to stand up for what we want, our school embodies the teenage stereotype: complaining left and right without initiating any real change.

It’s pretty widely understood and expected that as time passes, quality is bound to decline. Health regulations are passed, budgets are lowered, and prices creep up. The biggest addition this year is the requirement of a fruit (or vegetable, but basically fruit) purchased with every meal.

“If you don’t want it, just put it in the bin,” is something I’ve heard over and over again since the beginning of the school year.

For many students, the routine now goes pay for lunch, pick up the required piece of fruit, walk five feet, and put it in the plastic box with all the other failed attempts at forcing more nutrition into our diets.

Really, what difference are these countless new guidelines making, if any at all? I can see an idea like this making a difference in an elementary school setting, where kids more or less eat what they’re given; however, we’re in high school. We make our own decisions and we won’t eat something just because we’re told, and we shouldn’t, just because we’re told. We need to let the district know that this new rule isn’t going to change our lifestyle. It isn’t going to cure us of the obesity epidemic, and it isn’t going to encourage us to be more active.

Along with this, a seemingly small but relatively significant change has taken place in the menu: no more tots. By this, I mean that the french fries and tater tots that used to come with whatever was being served in the offerings bar, is now replaced with side dishes like green beans or broccoli. Now, if a student wants french fries, tater tots, or the like, they have to be purchased for an extra $1.95 in the snack line. Not only are unwanted foods being thrown onto our lunch trays, but the items that provided the initial incentive to buy lunches were snatched away.

Last, but certainly not least, the quality and taste of the meals themselves have worsened. As a rule, I usually avoid school pizza in general, since my Central Elementary days of eating rectangular pieces of cardboard topped with questionable cubed sausage (excepting, of course, the Papa John’s days. Whatever happened to those?). Last week, however, I ventured over to the pizza line, pleasantly surprised at how appealing a slice of cheese looked. But lo and behold, once I actually picked it up to take a bite, I noticed what couldn’t have been noticed before. Despite how appetizing the top half of the pizza looked, the bottom resembled unbaked dough. Bring back the cardboard!

I wish I believed that our school would rise up, but the truth is, no matter how much we complain and grumble, high school students will almost always choose to buy a lunch (regardless of the quality) over taking the time to pack one at 6 a.m. We’ll take what we’re given, but we are definitely not satisfied.