School Cafeterias: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Updated: Oct 12

Bonji Foods Aficionado Smart Brief: Volume 45

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Are School Cafeterias Still Serving Rather Disgusting Food?

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Hi all, welcome back to the Bonji Food Aficionado Smart Brief! We hope the weekend treated you well and that you are ready for a new week full of new opportunities! Growing up, I was always bringing my own lunch to school, even in high school. Of course, there were some “food days” that were catered by restaurants and generally were great. However, I was never the type to be getting in line to pay for some putrid pizza or whatever they may have been serving that day. Okay, maybe I would grab chicken fingers once in a while, but that's beside the point. In general, our school cafeterias were just not the place to be getting a good meal. And in retrospect, the reality was that we probably had it better than most of the other schools across the country. I wanted to find out if school lunches were still slacking with their quality, so here are some of my findings…


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The Outlook For School Lunches: The Good and The Bad In attending Syracuse University, I got a slight glimpse of the future of cafeterias. The setup was nice and polished, with options all over the place. Yet, I would still say the quality wasn't always quite there. In my eyes, there really shouldn't be a reason that this wealthy university couldn't supply consistent, decent meals. I may just be hating on the cafeteria a little bit, but I truly feel like they could do better. Now, I do understand that maybe it was just a work in process. The cafeteria was much improved from what I was used to in high school, so I can cut Syracuse some slack. Moving forward, I took a deep dive to see if school systems were even taking a look at the food they are serving their students. And in fact, they are. But don't get too excited just yet, this is a long process that probably won't turn out as glamorous as they make it seem. Nonetheless, they are at the very least trying to improve the quality of food. For instance, New York City Public Schools have created a “chefs council," headed by celebrity chef, Rachel Ray, to help introduce plant-based options and better-sourced food options. Understandably, this is just the start, but I'd say it's a much-needed, good first piece of the action. I then took this a step further by seeing if I could find anyone blogging about their lunches, and indeed there is plenty. I settled on one blog out of California that seemed to be extremely level-headed when it came to its food reviews. To me, the pictures made me feel sorry for the students, but the reviews were, overall, not too shabby. It's a slightly encouraging sign, but I was simply not convinced. Remaining in California, I was made aware that the state has recently put a $45 million program in place to train cafeteria staff and offer healthier options. I do agree that training kitchen staff is vital to solving this situation, but I'd also like to give a round of applause to the often short-staffed kitchens across America… they deserve it, the school lunches aren't necessarily their fault. Ultimately, it seems that school lunches and cafeterias are on their way to improvement. Even my own high school has recently refurbished entire cafeterias and put funding towards better food options. I'm happy that students these days are, at the least, getting some form of help when it comes to food. We at Bonji Foods live and breathe food, so we take this all very passionately. At the end of the day… Delicious Is For Everyone.


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