School Lunch Nutrition

By: Gwyneth Loghran and Gina Mastrangelo

Buying lunch is convenient and fast for students who don’t have time to make their own lunch, but what are they really consuming? Does anyone really stop and check out the nutritional facts? We photographed three students’ lunches and figured out just what they’re eating.

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Lunch #1

(Cheese pizza, 4 oz of french fries, chocolate chip muffin, gatorade, and ketchup)

This seems to be an average lunch for a lot of students in the SLS cafeteria.  It contains an entree, side with some type of condiment, a drink, and a desert. Pizza and fries are among some of the most popular options for lunch here. There are definitely other choices, but people always gravitate towards the same thing. After doing some research and finding out the nutritional facts for each item, we determined that this picture contain just about 1,000 calories and nearly 2,000 mg of sodium.

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Lunch #2

(6 chicken nuggets and a bottle of water)

Chicken nuggets are another very popular option for lunch here. These 6 chicken nuggets contain about 250 calories and 270 mg of sodium. This lunch is small and not very filling. People often buy one item like this to try and be “healthier”, however, this is not the right option for that. This lunch is not filling and contains little nutritional value.

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Lunch #3

(Caesar Salad and bottle of water)

Salads are one of the most unpopular items as an option for lunch. Salads are often offered as entrees and are always available in the refrigerated area. This salad contains only 150 calories without dressing, but double that with dressing. This salad is offered everyday in the cafeteria and is certainly healthier than any of the grill items.

Several other examples of popular items in for lunch include: A plain hamburger (370 calories), chicken patty sandwich (360), onion rings (380), and cheeseburger (420).

Most of the packaged items served in the school cafeteria do contain the nutritional facts on the package and these is also a sign posted on the wall in the cafeteria that lists most of the nutritional facts in the items served. Kids often make the excuse that healthy options aren’t offered at our school so they gravitate towards pizza and fries everyday.

However, this is not the case according to Ed Pockl, AVI Director of Food Service. He stated that there are 7-8 different options offered everyday at lunch. There is always an entree, several grill items, and several cold items like subs and salads. The first thing people see when they go into the cafeteria is the entree and grill items. There is variety here, which many people fail to recognize.

We’ve had this lunch program for just over half of the year, and people continue to complain about the lack of options. While healthier options do cost slightly more than girll items, there isn’t much more than $1 difference. That is not a big price to pay to eat healthier, even if it’s just once or twice a week.

Students also always have the option to pack their lunches. Packing a lunch is easy and often times healthier. So while we’ve heard endless complaints about the school lunch program here, there isn’t much room to complain. There are several healthy, as well as unhealthy, options for lunch.

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