Opinion: In Defense of the School Lunch

Cafeteria food is commonly derided, but at NASH there are options for everyone — and they’re tasty too.

Shuban Tiwari, Staff Writer

I think school food is over-hated, possibly even underrated. Sure, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the school food that NASH serves, but with a strong variety of options to choose from, it’s definitely not horrible. 

Take the deli bar and burger line. For starters, the deli bar is a great place to craft your own meal to your liking. You can add whatever toppings you want and whatever meat and cheese you like, as well as the choice of your own bread. And at the end, you can even toast it to your liking. Not a bad deal, right? 

For the burger line, you have the option of choosing a few items: a chicken patty, a spicy chicken patty, chicken tenders, spicy chicken tenders, hamburgers, and occasionally corn dogs and chicken fries. 

The options are by no means at the level of popular fast-food chains like Chick-fil-A or Subway, but they aren’t half bad, either. 

But there are still other options. The special line, the pasta/salad line, and the pizzas are all excellent alternatives for those not interested in the burger or deli route. I’m a big fan especially of the new buffalo chicken pizzas offered this year on Mondays and Wednesdays. When I first saw these delicious slices of pizza on the lunch countertop, I was ecstatic. I was excited to see a new and refreshing food alternative to my daily chicken patties. Not to mention, the spicy chicken tenders were also an excellent addition to the food options at the burger bar this year. 

But a burger without any toppings is boring, and that brings me to the heavenly toppings bar located right next to the deli line. The toppings bar is a great place to decorate your food with healthy vegetables or spice your food up with salsa and sour cream. We’re fortunate to have such an extensive supply of toppings, considering the low standards of the typical school lunch. 

We’ve all heard the horror stories of school lunches that are moldy, have gone bad, or are simply mystery meat. Thankfully, NASH isn’t one of those places. In our cafeteria, we have fresh, healthy food that doesn’t taste awful. 

But now for the grand finale: the special line, the line of unpredictability. It’s home to General Tso’s on Tuesdays and mashed potato and chicken on Fridays. If there’s one thing humans all love, it’s unpredictability. We love to be surprised, and the special line helps us to quench the primal thirst of curiosity. 

Sometimes, the special line gets a little festive. Just a few days ago, the students at NASH were lucky to eat the famous “Thanksgiving meal,” a full plate of turkey, stuffing, and bread. 

Not only are the dishes in the NASH cafeteria diverse in their form, but they’re diverse when it comes to culture, too. General Tso’s is a great example of one of many ethnic foods offered by the NASH cafeteria, and I only expect the number of diverse foods to increase as the cafeteria continues to improve its menu. 

Do I think you should buy a school lunch every day? No, but I think it might be nice to try something new on occasion.  And even if you don’t enjoy a different meal, you get to talk to the kind cafeteria ladies and interact with a few friends in a lunch line. Not bad for a school cafeteria, right?