The Many Mysteries Of School Lunch


Chaz Bivins


          Many students here at West Seattle High School eat the school lunch every single day throughout their whole high school experience. After a while, kids start to wonder about things like when is it made, where does it come from, and will I ever have the chance the change it?  


          The truth is, lunch ladies are some of the nicest people around campus. And considering students are the ones eating, they are very open to hearing as much feedback as possible. 


          So, how does lunch work? Desirae Myer, one of two lunch ladies at WSHS, knows all the ins and outs of the school lunch system and shared the secrets of the industry. Her daily schedule changes depending on what food she has to prepare for lunch but she says an average day for her looks like this, “I come in early in the morning and the first thing I tackle is putting out all the food for breakfast.” 


          “Most of the time, the breakfast foods are boxed or packaged, so this process goes fairly quick and I can get to work on other stuff. After that I prepare all the boxed lunches a day before. I do this as a safety is a safety precaution just in case we somehow run out of food or time, that way we always have a whole day’s worth of boxed lunches to serve while we deal with the problem.” 


          After that she starts making the actual hot lunch and this is where the food she’s making determines her schedule. Something like barbeque chicken sandwiches would take all morning while grilled cheeses could take only an hour or two. This might seem like she started a little early but considering she makes around 500 lunches on a daily basis, you’d also want to get a head start on things.  


          Although that number seems intimidating, she says, “I’m always able to finish on time and usually have to put them in the warmer until lunch so they don’t get cold.” After lunch, her day mostly consists of kitchen work. This could be cleaning or stocking, and after she’s all done she’ll leave around the same time school ends. 


          Even after learning how the lunch process works, it still begs the question of where does the food come from and who decides the meal? With the recent food shortages, there’s no longer a monthly lunch schedule because their supplier is not able to tell them what they can give until a couple days before. So, they implemented a weekly schedule that is constructed by their head district chef, Emma Collins.  


          Although, before all of that, they have to confirm a vendor like Sysco and that’s where the food comes from. Even if the vendor switches up, the district is really into having the foods sourced from local fresh farms at all times. This is the case for all schools within SPS. Even if schools serve different meals, they’re still all picking from the same menus. Unfortunately, students giving recommendations on what lunch they want won’t affect where it comes from. But, no matter what, our lunch staff is always trying to obtain the highest quality, best tasting food for the kids.  


          Sometimes our wildcats will have the best lunch ever and want to tell the staff to make it again or other times students don’t enjoy it as much and want to ask to switch it up a little bit. All of that is okay! Just remember to always keep it respectful. These people make free lunches every single day. Many students believe they have no say in what they eat, but there’s actually many outlets someone can go to and speak their mind.  


          The first and easiest source to go to is the lunch ladies themselves. Just find a time to meet that’s not disrupting their work. After a chat with them, they can contact their supervisor with any request. The second person you can go to is the Director of Culinary Services, Arron Smith. Even though a response isn’t guaranteed, if many students emailed him about what they want on the menu, he would try his best to get it on there.  


           The last and most accessible resource is the Culinary Service website for Seattle Public Schools ([email protected]). That link is a really simple and effective forum created by the district that anyone can fill out. There’s options to submit questions, concerns, suggestions, and anything that has to do with the food in Seattle Public Schools. Hopefully the wildcats can come together and make their time during lunch as enjoyable as possible.