What people really think about school lunch


Mario Nieto

MCHS students at lunch time

Santa Ana Unified School District is back in session and students all know what that means: rushed mornings, heavy traffic, busy schedules, and crappy school lunch. As students, we have all seen our classmates bash on the food served here, yet others seem to enjoy it. This raises the question as to what MCHS students really think about the school food.

SAUSD promotes a healthy lifestyle for its students by encouraging them to make healthy food choices on and off campus. The sausd.us website provides healthy food choices and resources such as “ChooseMyPlate.gov,” where you’re provided with information needed for a healthy diet. “Good nutrition and learning go hand in hand,” according to the SAUSD website.  Students are given a variety of healthy food choices when getting their lunch here at Middle College High School. SAUSD serves school lunch and breakfast to over 60 schools, serving approximately 49,000 students, Middle College included.

We all have our own opinions on the school lunch, but a weighted opinion is that of our lunch provider, Mario Nieto. Nieto considers the school lunch program beneficial, due to the fact that some parents don’t have time to prepare lunch for their kids. In addition, some families are short on money, so free lunch really is a big help to them. Nieto believes that if the school had its own cafeteria, he could prepare hot lunches, especially breakfast. “Lunch would be freshness,” he says. Some students are given money to go eat somewhere else when given time. Although Nieto has never received the school lunch in bad condition, such as being rotten or not edible, he knows it still needs to be improved. He added, “I’m here at this particular Middle College site because I think you guys, you and everybody, the students, you deserve more than what you got.” He mentioned how students here spend more time studying, preparing for their lives, and utilizing the opportunity to take college courses. Nieto stated he loves to work at this site, stating, “When they ask me why I went to work on this site, I say I love to work at this site because of you guys.”

The freshmen are four weeks into the school year and may still be adjusting to the food served here compared to what was offered in their previous school. Out of a class of 93 freshmen, 88 students were either interviewed or polled about our lunch. Out of those 88 students, 53 said they don’t really have an opinion on the food, or that it is “Okay.” 17 students said they liked the food while another 17 said they did not like the food. From the school lunch, the pizza was voted class favorite, with the teriyaki bowls and the burgers being what the freshmen like least. “It is too repetitive,” says freshman Jessika Rivero.

For the class of 2020, 39 juniors were interviewed out of a class of 82, with the same poll question. 24 students responded that they do not like the school lunch, while 15 said they do like it. Meat nachos were among the favorite food, with 12 votes, while the least favorite was boxed pizza, carrying five votes. “I don’t think it’s the best,” junior Jayden Juarez stated, mentioning there is room for improvement.

As for the sophomore class, 36 students were asked whether or not they like the school lunch, and which was their favorite and least favorite. Seven students said they like it, 22 said they did not, and seven say they buy their own food. The food that was most favored was nachos with seven votes and the least favorite was the box pizza with 10 votes. Sophomore Pablo Agustin personally dislikes the food served because, “The food doesn’t digest in my body very well, and it irritates my stomach.”

The senior class was asked which food they liked and disliked at school. Out of 37 seniors, 27 disliked the food and 10 liked the food. Tamales were the most favorable items on the menu whereas boxed pizza was the least liked.

Senior Josselyn Orozco gave insight on what her experience has been like eating school lunch for the past four years. Orozco said that she occasionally eats food that is provided by the school. She says that the only reason she would eat school lunch is that she has late classes at Santa Ana College and “needs a little something” to get her through the day.

“It’s okay but it can be better. But, since it’s free, I really can’t be complaining,” Orozco said. She says that the items on the menu are very repetitive and it gets tiring. “They need more of a variety. It’s always the same thing. Cheeseburgers, chicken burgers, cold sandwiches, and salads.” She suggests that new items should be included; that way, students will be encouraged to try out the school food.

Not only has the food been repetitive, but students have also had issues and complaints about the food. Orozco had a list of many instances in which she was served “bad food.” She has gotten expired milk and juice. Her chicken burger had mold on the bun. Her chicken tamale has been under-cooked and her hot dog was a weird “gray color.” “It did not look normal,” Orozco said. Problems like these force students to find new options. Orozco said that many people, including herself, go to the student store or vendor trucks on campus to purchase food. On average, she said she spends anywhere from 20 to 30 dollars a week on food that is not provided by the school.