By Parker Bell-Devaney
“It’s not that easy to explain.” Is the first thing MVRMS lunch director Kathy Sullivan says when discussing what determines aspects of the lunch. It’s been a highly debated topic, but all students agree, they don’t really know what happens behind the serving counter.
“As long as we receive federal funding for lunch we have to be compliant with their regulations.” say Mrs. Sullivan. Though most students understand that there are regulations and how the school can’t serve just anything, they didn’t know just how strict and specific these regulations are.
MVRMS Principal Ben Doren elaborates on the subject. In order to fund the lunch program, the school must accept grants from the Federal and State government. And as long as they do this they must comply with their rules. “Students must take one milk, one main dish, one cup of fruit and one cup of vegetables” says Mr. Doren.
Around 5 years ago, effort to enforce healthier lunch increased greatly. With this, many large commercial farms, began producing vegetables and fruits in large amounts at a factory farm quality. However, Mrs. Sullivan has made sure to get the freshest ingredients possible says Mr. Doren. He also states that the MVRMS lunch is the freshest public school lunch program in Berkshire county.
When asked for their thoughts on the freshness and quality of the lunches, many of the same answers appeared. The quality and freshness was okay, but the portions were much too small. But it’s not the choice of Mrs. Sullivan or the district. The Federal government designs the lunch based on the amount of food a school can get for the money granted by the Government.
Though many schools buy government surplus food, Mrs. Sullivan has made the executive decision not to buy these cheap foods and instead sacrifice quantity for quality. In doing so, sometimes even with sacrifices the school spends fifty to eighty thousand dollars on food each year even with federal and state funding.
Most students felt that the fruits and vegetables were fairly fresh but had been that way in exchange for a sub-par main meal. James, an 8th grade student who purchases school lunch says “The fruits and veggies are pretty fresh, but I don’t like the main meal. It’s always really small with a few exceptions, and the food tastes like it was probably frozen.”
Frozen was the answer of 100% of the students when asked how they think the food is transported and stored at the school. However, they are wrong, nearly all the meals prepared by the lunch staff are made with fresh ingredients. Infact, many of the fruits, vegetables and aspects of the main meal are sourced locally.
Patricia Boland, the Health and Wellness teacher at MVRMS says that she doesn’t agree with any of the guidelines for the lunch. “The lunch doesn’t follow any established government recommended charts for healthy eating.” She says when asked how she thinks it relates back to the healthy plate or food pyramid.