Cafeteria food fails students

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Cafeteria food fails students

The cafeteria does not provide enough options for students with dietary restrictions.

The cafeteria does not provide enough options for students with dietary restrictions.

Kala Youngblood

The cafeteria does not provide enough options for students with dietary restrictions.

Kala Youngblood

Kala Youngblood

The cafeteria does not provide enough options for students with dietary restrictions.

Kala Youngblood, Broadcast Editor and Events Coordinator

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As I meandered to the cafeteria right before winter break, I smelled the overcooked vegetables before I reached the door. As a vegan, I do not consume meat, dairy, eggs, or any products from an animal. Mostly for ethical reasons however I cannot consume any dairy without an upset stomach due to lactose intolerance. The options available did not look promising: sausage pizza, chicken patty, bacon cheeseburger, turkey and cheese sub, with sides of fries, broccoli, fruit and milk.

I asked one of the lunch ladies if they offered salad. She disappeared into the back and returned with a boxed salad and added some french fries to the tray. The only dressing options were ranch, which contained dairy, and honey mustard, which contained egg. Disheartened, I picked up a container of orange juice, some ketchup, and paid for my meal.

The salad had fresh lettuce, green bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers accompanied by two small containers of ham and cheese. The vegetables were refreshing, but the lack of dressing made the salad hard to eat. Moving the bed of sad greens aside, I turned my attention to the seven cold fries on my tray. Unfortunately, there was nothing ketchup could do to help the flavorless, half baked, potato strips.

This unfilling meal reminded me of why I began packing my lunch in the first place;  School cafeterias, not just our own, provide few options for people with dietary restrictions. There are plenty of people who eat meat, but have dairy allergies, and only one of the day’s entree options would fit their needs.

I understand that school cafeterias must mass produce food and follow government regulations; however, it is evident cafeterias are failing to offer an adequate variety of options for students.

According to Generationveggie.com, “There is no law or USDA regulation that requires schools to offer a vegetarian or vegan meal every day.” Additionally the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) only accepts lactose free milk, which our school does not offer, and does not accept other non-dairy, vegan milk substitutes. The NSLP has begun to recognize meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers, as viable lunch options. The School Nutrition Association found in a recent survey that nearly two out of three schools offer vegetarian options regularly.  There needs to be whole foods available for purchase, such as fruits and nuts.

Our cafeteria needs to recognize national trends regarding alternative diets and follow the example other schools have set. Each student is individual and unique, and it is time the cafeteria recognizes that and changes their menu.

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