Cafeteria Food


Cafeteria Food (Student Opinions) | Anthony

Disclaimer: This article does not represent the opinions of all students but solely the ones of those who were interviewed. 


On the FUHSD Website, they state that: “The goal of our Food Services Department is to provide healthy and delicious food for students, prepared fresh daily to help enhance their overall learning experience.” 


Of the 2000+ students that attend CHS, around 250-300 students purchase food from the cafeteria each day. The students that eat the food have varying opinions on the state of the cafeteria food, regarding its price, quality, and taste.


Says Senior Ethan Wong, a cafeteria worker, and frequent cafeteria food eater, “I feel like the cafeteria food is generally pretty good, except a lot of their food has to be refrigerated or reheated. That might make the food taste not as good and less fresh.”


Wong often works at the cafeteria, receiving free food on the days he works. He would eat at the cafeteria much less often if he did not work there.


Says Wong, “I think the food is a lot more expensive than it needs to be, so I don’t think it’s a fair price.”


As a worker, he is also familiar with how the food is created but he is unsure of what companies the cafeteria food is sourced from. One positive of cafeteria food for Wong is its nutritional value.


Says Wong, “The food is actually relatively healthy. For meals, they provide salads, and there aren’t too many fatty foods. The cafeteria has a lot of limits in terms of health restrictions and rules they have to follow. They’re also pretty good about catering to the dietary restrictions of different students.”


Many students on campus choose not to patronize the cafeteria; instead, they bring their own food or go out to eat.


Says Senior Pulkit Singhal, “I don’t usually eat at the cafeteria. The food could definitely be better for the price it is at.” 


On a typical day, Singhal brings snacks and home-cooked lunches to school because he prefers them to the cafeteria food, and it makes more economic sense to him. Additionally, with Cupertino High School’s open campus policy, the proximity of Cupertino Main Street to CHS Campus, and many students reaching legal driving age, students have many off-campus food options to choose from. 


Some students, like Winny Kung, choose whether or not they eat from the cafeteria food based on their daily circumstances and what the cafeteria is serving. 


Says Kung, “I usually don’t get food from the cafeteria, but I did today because I couldn’t bring food from home. I usually only get food when they have the self-serve pasta because you can get as much as you want.”


For students like Kung, the cafeteria serves as a backup plan for when they are not able to get food elsewhere.


Cafeteria Food (How it’s Made) | Joan & Sanat

The Fremont Union High School District follows the National School Lunch Program, a federally assisted meal program created to provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. “This means that the school has to fall in line with USDA requirements and receives reimbursements from the government for providing free lunches,” said Divya Puri, the district manager for food services. 


While the school cafeteria staff are responsible for making and supplying food to the school, the district is in charge of deciding the food items that the cafeteria serves. According to Chean Hoang, the food services supervisor of Cupertino High School’s cafeteria, the food is made fresh daily. Hoang has a set of cooks that are responsible for cooking the meal, while she oversees the cooking and distributing brunch and lunch.


Said Hoang “My cooks [do] the cooking, and if we are behind I chip in.”


An important part of meal preparation is how the meat is prepared. The two main types of meat served in the cafeteria for lunch are beef and chicken. Both arrive at the school frozen and are thawed a few days before they are served.


Said Hoang, “Roast chickens, they come frozen but raw, and we have to thaw it out, season it, at least a day ahead or so. A few days before we season it, we thaw it out, of course. And then baking it the day of.”


One of the major differences between how the chicken and the beef at Cupertino arrive at the school is that the beef comes pre-cooked, so it simply has to be baked the day of, while the chicken comes raw, so it must be seasoned, defrosted and baked.


Since all cafeterias under FUHSD have the same menus and guidelines, they share their inventory whenever necessary


As Hoang explained, “Inventory-wise, I try to control and use up what we have, and then sometimes we run out and borrow from other schools, or we share with other schools when they’ve run out. We kind of divide it among ourselves.”


In general, the menu changes every two months to prevent redundancy. Other considerations are student participation, labor, cost and cultural sensitivity. The last criteria was one of the driving forces behind the recent introduction of Fusion Indian pizza. 


“A major change we made was introducing the Fusion Indian pizza and introducing tofu to the menu. I plan to make the menu healthier in the future by serving burrito bowls and having scrambled eggs,” said Puri.


Puri also aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the cafeterias. “I have tried to have items that are clean labels and had a plan to get rid of individual condiments […] Unfortunately, with COVID-19 there are health concerns of students using the same dispensers so that plan has been put on hold,” Puri said.


COVID-19 has caused more serious disruptions than just putting the dispenser plan on hold. The district is faced with the challenge of helping provide for students without access to food due to the school shutdown. “We have a working plan right now that is subject to change. We intend to have a drive-thru service with brown-bagged breakfast and lunch served free of cost for anyone under 18 at all the schools during the shutdown,” said Puri.