Although many students qualify for a free or reduced price lunch, relatively few find the cafeteria appetizing, so now high school cafeterias entice students with food court appeal.
At Santaluces High School in Boynton Beach, the cafeteria was turned around with a $550,000 make over that ditched the old menu and the flourescent lighting that makes food appear gray. The institutional smell is also gone. Instead, the new look resembles a food court. Various “restaurants” dish up Asian, Latin American, and deli choices. The results are telling – 2oo more students a day now use the cafeteria, including many who received free or low cost food.
Santaluces is the third high school in five years to use money available from the National School Lunch Program to modernize the lunchroom. More schools in the area will follow.
What has not changed is that meals must meet federal standards, with one serving of meat or protein, one grain, up to a cup of fruit, a cup of vegetables and a cup of milk. All the recipes must have less fat and salt. In addition, the student has to pick at least three components, of which at least one must be a fruit or vegetable so that the district can be reimbursed.
The choices are well received. “The salads are better and now they have hummus and rice and beans. I have a lot more options,” said vegetarian Misha Brahmbhatt, a senior. The students like the new food, and the new atmosphere, with five large TV screens playing ESPN, Cartoon Network, and other popular entertainment.