School Lunch Survey Results: Community Disapproves!

Girls+Division+students+line+up+to+get+their+lunch+at+the+cafeteria.+

Bryanna Marrero

Girls Division students line up to get their lunch at the cafeteria.

Adrian Vasquez and Walter Pierce

Since the beginning of the school year, there has been a lot of chatter about the school lunch, mostly negative. Many students complained that the school lunch was nasty, dry, small-portioned, and not as good as previous years.

Now, reporters from The Benedict News and students in SBP’s News Production class have conducted a schoolwide survey that confirms these very criticisms of the school’s lunch.

“The school lunch here is very sad,” said one student who took the survey. “After a day of hard classes we get fed food in little portions and we are somehow expected to have energy during practices and games, off of food that wouldn’t even fill a 5-year-old without them having stomach problems.” Out of the 243 students who answered the survey, 83.3% of the participants said that the school lunch, produced by Maschio’s Food Service of Chester, N.J., is consistently bad.

On Oct. 8, a student in the News Production class phoned Maschio’s, the distributing company that produces St. Benedict’s school lunches for the Girls and Boys Prep Divisions. A representative from Maschio’s returned the call, provided an email address, and asked the reporters to send along questions she would answer. The spokesperson also indicated the company ultimately would be willing to meet with student representatives over concerns of the food quality. The reporters sent along questions, and asked to receive a response within a week. The company never responded.

 At St. Benedict’s, the school lunch is offered to students for free. Typical entrees include: corn dogs, mac and cheese, chile, beef patties, and fish fries. The food is frozen and heated in school ovens. Students have complained of small portioned food that is often semi-frozen, soggy, unsalted, and stale. 

School lunch beef patty provided by Maschio’s (Claude Knight)
Unfinished beef patty provided by Maschio’s (Claude Knight)

The first question was to rate the school lunch on a scale of 1 through 5  (1 being the worst and 5 being the best). Some 243 students out of the approximately 650 students in the Boys and Girls’ Prep Division, or 48.1% (117 participants) of the respondents rated the school lunch a 1 out of 5. Some 35.4% (86 participants) rated it a 2 out of 5. Another 14% (34 participants) rated it a 3 out of 5. The final 2.6% (6 participants) rated it a 4 out of 5. 

Not one respondent gave the school lunch a 5 out of 5 rating. When asked what students like about the school lunch, the two most common responses were either  “nothing” or “pizza on Friday.” When asked about the dislikes about the school’s lunch, the answers varied from “everything” to “small portions, flavor, and even overall quality of the lunch.” 

Many students in the community expressed their concerns through the mention of how the seemingly non-nutritional meals potentially hinder their performance within school and activities.  When asked whether or not the school lunch was nutritional enough, 76.5% (186 participants) answered no and 23.5% (57 participants) answered yes. When asked whether or not the portions were enough, 82.3% (200 participants) answered no and 17.7% (43 participants) answered yes. Some 67.9% (165 participants) answered yes to whether or not the school lunch affects their performance in school/activities, and 32.1% (78 participants) answered no.

Many members of the community wondered whether the drastic change in the quality of the school lunch over the last year had to do with it being free. One of the survey questions asked students if they would consider paying for the school lunch if it meant an improvement in portion size and nutritional quality. Some 70.4% (171 participants) answered yes and 29.6% (72 participants) answered no. The prices students were willing to pay varied from $0 (25.5%), $0.50-$2.50 (46.1%), $2.50-$5.00 (22.2%), and $5.00+ (6.2%). 

The results of the survey show that a vast majority of students disapprove of the school lunch. Many students left comments regarding the lunch. One student wrote, “As a school full of high performing athletes I think students should be fed better so they can perform at a high level and get all the nutrients they need.”

 Maschio’s statement on its website says, “We are passionate about food and we are known for our vision for personal ‘hands-on’ service. Our lunches are healthier than typical packed lunches with fewer calories, saturated fat and sugar. Our expertise and array of services is unmatched in the industry.” Nonetheless, students at St. Benedict’s Prep, believe otherwise.        

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