News

Students want better hot lunches

Stephanie Paddock is boycotting lunches at Oak Harbor High School - Christine Smith
Stephanie Paddock is boycotting lunches at Oak Harbor High School
— image credit: Christine Smith

A group of Oak Harbor High School students say they are not happy with the new levy-supported hot lunch program, and that they want to see some changes.

Tuesday morning, eight high school students gathered around a conference table — along with food service director David Connors and high school vice principal Linda Riffe — in order to provide feedback on Oak Harbor High School’s current lunch program. The meeting was the first in a series that will take place throughout the year.

The students included a representative from each grade level, as well as members of such school organizations as the Associated Student Body, Drama Club, Technology Association and the Key Club.

Together, these students now make up the Student Food Service Committee. And, as a body, they have given the new hot lunch program at the Oak Harbor High a failing grade.

“I have eaten it ... and it wasn’t very impressed with it,” said Hilary Figgs, a 17-year-old junior. Figgs said she has tried the pizza, the potato wedges and the salad, and that the food “looks like it’s made out of plastic ... the cheese especially.”

Figgs said that the food this year, which is provided by the new National School Lunch Program, is not as good as the lunches offered by the school last year.

“The pizza is a lot more greasy,” said Figgs. “It looks like it’s been cooked extra long.”

She said that food is not at all what she expected it to be.

“When I heard about hot lunch program,” Figgs said, “I was thinking, ‘Ooh, mashed potatoes, green beans’ ... I was thinking ‘home-cooked.’”

Instead, she said, the choices are similar to that offered last year, such as pizza, fries and salad.

Figgs said that she is hearing similar assessments from her classmates — the peers she represents on the committee.

Jaemee Galang, a 17-year-old senior, agrees with Figg. Galang said she took the initiative to ask her classmates their thoughts on the food so that she could be prepared for the meeting.

“The pizza seems fake and the rest of the food is okay,” said Galand, “but it isn’t as good as last year’s.”

Connors said that he doesn’t mind the students’ honesty. In fact, he said that he will take the feedback from the students and use it to foster menu changes, or changes in ingredients or suppliers.

Connors said that he wants to raise the quality of the food offered by schools to please the “customers.”

“We can look at definitely the food we’re serving ... what’s specifically wrong with it,” Connors said. “Say, if it’s a pizza, if it’s the crust or the cheese or what’s on the pizza.” He also said that time of preparation can be adjusted, so that food doesn’t sit too long before serving.

Vincent Vasquez, a 17-year-old senior, said this is his first year at Oak Harbor High School, so he can’t compare this year’s lunch offerings to last year’s. Vasquez, however, is discouraged by the long wait in service lines.

“It’s really crowded,” Vasquez said. “I don’t know if they can improve on how they do the lines.”

Vasquez said that he purchases a hot lunch at least three times a week, and that by the time he gets his food, he only has about 10 minutes left to eat it. He said he needs to “wolf it down.”

Connors was already aware of the long lines. He said he recognizes that the wait is too long for the students at the high school. However, Connors said there is not much that can be done to speed up the process until the high school is remodeled.

The high school kitchen is too small to accommodate all the students in an expedient manner, Connors said.

Stephanie Paddock, a 17-year-old senior, said that she and her freshman sister have boycotted the hot lunch program — at least until it improves in quality and service.

“I just don’t buy lunch here anymore,” Paddock said, “and my sister ... just brings a lunch every day.”

You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 27 edition online now. Browse the archives.