Walk through Elk Grove High School on any given day, and students are likely to gripe about the school lunch options.
There are certainly many informal debates on whether the school lunch is truly healthy enough for students to eat. Sure, the school’s menu includes salads and parfaits, but are there other objectively healthy options on the menu?
“I will consume it if I am starving, but I definitely wish that we could go back to middle school lunches because those are better,” freshman Kaileia O’ Brien said. “I loved those options and they always had really good vegetarian options, and then I came here and it was pizza every single day for a vegetarian option. I don’t want to eat pizza every single day.”
She also said she believes that the quality of food “depends on what you get, like some of the pizza is really undercooked, but then few are cooked to a good amount, the quality just differs, and it never is consistent.”
Bianca Jean Louis, a sophomore at Elk Grove, echoes what O’Brien says that the menu is limited in its options.
“I would give it 4/10 honestly,” Louis said.
What healthy and nutritious solutions exist for students who think like Louis and O’Brien? Jennifer Buxton, a health teacher at Elk Grove said she thinks that there needs to be more clarity.
“I do feel like on the lunch menu alone, they do talk about having at least fruits and vegetables with every single meal, which is a part is part of the My Fitness Pal,” she said. “The government suggests having at least half your plate fruits and vegetables and although they suggest having one or the other. Well, actually we should be having both for every single meal.”
She also said she believes that the school does have healthy options, but there are still other options that counter that.
“It’s really the same thing every single day,” Buxton said. “They have a grilled chicken salad one day and they have a grilled chicken Caesar salad every other day. So they do have on healthy option every single day, but there are still four or five other options that are not necessarily meeting the nutritional needs of our students.”
Though there are some healthier adjustments being made, the question is, will students choose the healthier options?
“If a student has the option of a hamburger and a pizza every day, would they truly make the choice to do something better?” Buxton said. “Pizza is not necessarily something that a kid should be eating — maybe once a week — but how many kids are eating that every day? That means we are not doing our job in terms of educating on not eating that or having that and maybe having that less available, but that’s an uphill battle.”
Buxton said she has spoken with the people in the cafeteria in the past and they all agreed that they generally believe they want to provide healthier options that are available for their kids.
“They even so much as in vending machines put all the healthier options in terms of granola bars and different peanut options in one row so at least students know where to look to find those healthier options,” Buxton said. “So, they have been willing to work with us in terms of student-athletes making healthier choices.”