Later, catering!

Cafeteria continues postponement of catering-style lunch for the 2021-2022 academic year


Binning Bags: The cafeteria is now lined with black containers, which consist of bags of lunch assortments.

Alex Siouffi, Reporter

However, COVID-19 closed the cafeteria last year, leading to OHS’ catering lunch style being shut down.  According to the Oakwood District website, under an article detailing the Free and Reduced Lunch program, administration will make free lunch available to all students for the 2021 – 2022 school year, thanks to a federal program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

This effectively means lunches provided for students will no longer be supplied by various restaurants in the area.  Instead, bagged lunches will be provided through the 2021 – 2022 academic year.

“We have our cafeteria workers from Smith, Harman, high school and junior high,” High School Principal Dr. Paul Waller said. “They all work together to pack them and get them all ready for all of the schools this year.”  A bagged lunch consists of a sandwich and a side (fruit or chips), along with a drink (typically white/chocolate milk).

A survey was sent out to the student body to gather data about the general thoughts and opinions about the change.  Of the 56 individuals who responded to the survey, approximately 60.7% choose not to take bagged lunches, instead opting to bring their own lunch or leave school grounds and go to a restaurant or some sort of food chain.  

One student noted, “I think it is a great program for those who need it but that it does not supply students with a sufficient lunch”.  

Waller commented that the program allows students to have the best educational environment for them, due to the safety and nutrition factor.

“I think it’s positive right now.  The USDA basically is providing lunches to schools at no cost to the students, and I think it’s a positive because with COVID, we’re trying to do what’s safest for our kids; it allows everybody to get a lunch or a snack if they need that.  So I think it’s a big benefit to have that.  It allows our students to have the best educational environment for them and we’ll do it as long as it’s the best way to do it,” Waller said.  “As long as COVID is around we’ll try to adjust as things change, but right now that’s our plan.”

The cafeteria will soon start offering hot foods alongside the presently offered bagged lunches on October 18.  This could be promising to students who do not find the begged lunches appetizing. 

“Yes, I think it will return, that is the goal.  We’re just kind of doing what we have to do right now, what’s best for students based on the current situation.  But yeah, I think, hopefully when COVID is under control then we can do everything safely,” Waller said.   “I’m guessing the USDA may stop this program at some point, and then we can go back to our previous system.

Some students advocate for the free lunches and the catering lunch system to be offered at the same time. 

“The catered lunch offers more options, for people who have the money to pay for it. I have heard people who were not really on board with the free lunch, but that was their only option because they didn’t have time to pack their own lunch,” Nico Dunlap (9) said. “But the free option is great because it would act as a fail-safe to those same people who don’t have time or money to get the catered lunch.”