Kristen Baurain

From trucks to trays: an inside look at MHS dining

March 24, 2022

School lunch. Everybody loves to hate it, and while it may not always be five-star fare, the MHS staff who order, cook and serve the food do so wholeheartedly every step of the process. 

“I like the kids, I enjoy cooking, I like my co-workers,” said Laponda Brown, cafeteria worker. “Everybody knows what to do. It’s a daily routine.”

For now, meals are free. But as anyone who has tried to grab a single slice of pizza or cup of fries could ascertain, free lunch has a host of boxes to tick before reaching the trays of students. For instance, all buns must be whole grain, and each entree must have a fruit or vegetable. 

 “Every week, we place an order, and get it delivered,” Mr. Hans Oskam Director of Dining Services, said. “Substitutions are horrendous right now because of the supply chain.”

The process goes something like this: Mr. Oskam orders the food through government-approved vendors and selects menu options, considering factors like health, variety and popularity. When trucks with supplies come in, staff cooks the food, often from scratch. One such cafeteria worker, Peggy Chovanec, has been slicing pizzas and dicing vegetables at MHS for over 25 years. 

“I just enjoy preparing the food,” Mrs. Chovanec said. “I eat (school lunch) every day. I like all the lines.”

Variety, versatility, vegetables: the future of MHS dining is full of possiblities. In addition to new menu options (sushi, for instance), there’s a real possibility of students skipping the long lines.

“We’re going to allow the students to be able to order their lunch on their phone, and we’ll have specialty sandwiches.” Mr. Oskam said. “Let’s say Sally wants a Portobello sandwich, she’ll be able to order and pick it up at a designated spot.”

Next time you sojourn through the taco line or snag a slice of sausage pizza, thank your food service workers for their efforts to keep everyone fed and healthy throughout the school day. 

“Everybody has to eat, in this world. It’s not like how some people take an English class or some people take a gym class,” Mr. Oskam said. “Every student has to eat every single day. So that’s what makes it exciting because you always have to take care of people no matter what.”

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