NASH cafeteria to offer radical new menu

A bold move for 2021-22 by Culinary Services is in line with a national movement toward a healthier, purely vegan lifestyle.

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photo by Lucie Flagg

The district hopes that the new plant-based lunches will help increase student productivity.

Lucie Flagg, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The chicken patty sandwich has long been a cafeteria staple for NASH juniors and seniors who do not pack a lunch. But supplies are not likely to last much longer.

Last Wednesday, fittingly during the two-hour wellness period, the NASH administrative team met with representatives from Culinary Services to discuss menu changes for the 2021-22 school year.

“We have been feeling as though there is a need for certain diets that the current dining plan is not offering,” explained NA Director of Culinary Services Mark Calabash.

The new plan, which is awaiting approval later this month, is fully plant-based.

“This is huge news for our vegan students,” Calabash said. “Starting next year, our entire cafeteria line will be free of any animal products, including meat and dairy.”

Although the official menu has not yet been finalized, there will likely be a heavy reliance on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and, of course, soybean products, such as soymilk and tofu.

“Tofu is the perfect meat substitute for us,” said NASH cafeteria kitchen manager Leeann Emmer. “It’s cheap, multifunctional, and easy for the cafeteria staff to prepare.”

Many of the popular cafeteria snacks will be removed by the end of this school year to help ease students into the vegan diet.

“We’re going to work on phasing out certain snacks, such as Doritos and Cheetos,” Emmer explained. “By the end of this school year, we hope to be fully stocked with vegan snacks, such as Paleo Puffs and Vegan Rob’s products.”

Because of the improvement in food quality, Calabash is expecting a slight increase in price. Entrées, which currently average around $2.35 per day, will likely be raised to $4.00 to account for additional costs.

“We hope that with these changes, lunchtime becomes a 40-minute period of self-reflection for students to better understand the terrifying impact that meat has on our planet,” Calabash said.

The announcement of the new dining plan was accompanied by praise in the community.

“I have been vegan for over six weeks and have yet to find any good cafeteria options,” said junior Stella Jones. “I’m so excited that I’ll be able to take-part in the lunch-buying experience for my senior year.”

Though the price increase may be an issue for some, Jones is not bothered by it.

“You can’t put a price tag on your health,” she said.

Meat-eaters will have the opportunity to pack their own lunches, although it is not recommended.”

— Mark Calabash, Director of Culinary Services

Junior Michael Cranges agrees with Jones and is excited about next year’s menu.

“I was raised pescatarian, but recently, with all of the problems surrounding climate change, I’ve thought about going entirely vegan,” he said. “I’m glad that the district has a similar outlook.”

Some students, however, feel that vegan enforcement is a step too far for the district.

“This whole thing is ridiculous,” said junior Brian Hart. “I’m gonna have to start a weekly pig roast in the school parking lot if [the district] keeps this up.”

The district has made it clear that any anti-vegan protests in the community will be accounted for, but their impact will likely not be enough to sway any plans.

“You can’t force a monkey to not eat a banana,” Hart said. “If I want a filet mignon, I’m gonna eat a filet mignon. The district’s not gonna stop me.”

District officials are anticipating student resistance and are creating a dining plan for those meat-eaters who refuse to comply.

“Meat-eaters will have the opportunity to pack their own lunches, although it is not recommended,” Calabash explained. “All non-vegan students will be sent to the poolside bleachers to eat in order to maintain plant-based purity in the cafeteria.”

A recent study showed that the scent of chlorine decreases the ability of tastebuds to taste certain foods—beef being one of them. It hasn’t yet been confirmed that this is the school’s reasoning for poolside lunch, although Emmer has little doubt.

“There’s no doubt that this is going to be a huge adjustment,” she said. “However, the whole cafeteria staff, including myself, is excited and eager to bring the vegan lifestyle to NASH.”

Students can expect to see updates in the coming weeks after the plan is officially approved. Phasing towards vegan snacks will also begin at that time.

“We hope that this new cafeteria plan brings forth change district-wide. Meat-eaters may be surprised how easy the vegan lifestyle can be,” Calabash concluded.

As his department works to finalize next year’s lunch menu, Calabash is asking students for their input as well as recommendations. If there’s a vegan entrée or snack that you would like to see next year, or simply want to express your opinion, submit a form here.

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Note: As the dateline indicates, this article is an April Fools prank.  It is entirely fictitious.