Food Committee makes changes to cafeteria


Ianna Pirozzi

Students wait in line for their turn to fill up a free bowl of salad from the newly reopened salad bar. The return of the salad bar on Tuesday, Jan. 24, was part of an effort by the Food Committee to offer healthier options in the cafeteria.

On Jan. 11, Chief Financial Officer Kathy Cullen announced a variety of changes that would be made to the cafeteria in accordance with the results of Dec. 6 survey from the Food Committee. The survey, which received almost 270 responses, led to decreases in prices, the availability of healthier options, and the addition of a greater variety.

The Food Committee was originally created last year as a way for the dining services to receive input on potential changes. Cullen gathered members for this year’s committee in September, and it has since convened twice, once in November and once in January.

The committee is composed of students, faculty, and staff. While Cullen has found it difficult to find a consistent meeting time that works for a large portion of the committee, she envisions that the group will grow over time, ideally to about 15 people.

One of the most consistent demands in response to the Food Committee’s survey about the cafeteria was a call for a reduction in prices. “[The email from Cullen that announced the changes] listed some of the prices of everyday items that we instantly modified. We’ve also lowered the prices of some of the bigger items like the yogurts and the fruit,” Dining Service Chef and Manager Scott Porter said.

According to Cullen, the Food Committee is working to keep students happy while accounting for the logistics of maintaining a high enough price to keep the kitchen running.

“I’m going to continue to work with Mr. Porter as he adds things in there to try to keep them as low as possible so that the kitchen is affordable to you guys without us having to actually subsidize lunch by losing money on it,” Cullen said. “We don’t look at that as a big profit center, [but] we just can’t afford to lose money on it.”

The cafeteria staff will also attempt to include healthier options in the future for vegans, vegetarians, and people with gluten intolerance, according to Cullen. For example, veggie burgers are now available daily as opposed to just two or three times a week.

According to sophomore Lauren Wright, a vegetarian herself, “[The cafeteria changes] weren’t necessary, but it was kind of the Food Committee.”

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, another healthy option, the salad bar, reopened. Though the Food Committee has been trying to reinstate the salad bar for months, “issues with the Health Department as far as allowing us to do it” delayed its arrival, according to Porter.

To announce its return, Cullen offered students the option to either fill a free bowl of salad or to pay $1 for a larger plate. “We’re not going to keep [the money from the salad bar promotion]. Whatever we collect, we’re going to donate to a local food bank or a local charity that helps with hungry kids,” Cullen said.

Finally, the committee is attempting to add more variety to the menu, but Cullen and Porter are still searching for specific new foods that students are interested in. Both Cullen and Porter stress that the cafeteria staff is willing to try whatever the students wish for that is reproducible on a high school level.

“I can’t promise that we can do everything, but the more we know what you guys want, the more we can think about it and try it. If it doesn’t work, we’ll respond that it didn’t work and give you the reasons why,” Cullen said. “The more we are transparent with you about what we’re doing over there, I think the more you’ll understand the limits.”

Porter echoed this adaptability to student input. “I want to make sure [students] understand that it’s a two-way street. It’s a swinging door. We’re open. I’m open for suggestions,” he said.

Senior Delaney Link, a member of the Food Committee, brought her concerns to Porter about healthier options and vegan-friendly food, and they were quickly addressed. “I would definitely say the cafeteria has started to listen to us and serve a wider variety of options for everyone,” Link said.

Link believes that the changes were positive, and she has heard positive reactions from other students as well. “I’m really happy with the changes, especially the price reductions,” Link said.

While they do not have specific plans yet, the Food Committee is already thinking of their next modifications to the cafeteria. Cullen is hoping to place nutritional values on everyday items and to potentially develop a meal plan system. Porter would like to interact with the students more by including a pancake griddle, a waffle iron, or an omelet station to breakfasts.

Overall, Cullen admits there is a lot of work to be done, but she is excited because she considers it to be “fun work.”

“A big part of what is important to us is that whatever we’re offering from the cafeteria, it’s important that you enjoy it,” Cullen said. “If only a quarter of the kids want what we’re doing, we’re failing.”

Ianna Pirozzi is an In-Focus Editor for The Patriot and