Lunchroom waste and preparation


Will Reiher, Staff Writer

“One time I was waiting in line for a spicy chicken sandwich but by the time I got there they were all gone so I went to another line and waited but they were also all gone,” senior Jacob Orr said. “They we’re out of like three entrees and I had to get a salad.”

Everyday 1,200 or more students use the cafeteria, and as early as 6 a.m. the kitchen staff of 10 is baking pizzas and cooking chicken nuggets for students and staff to consume as well as cleaning booths along with tables in-between lunches.

“We serve about a thousand meals every day,” Kitchen Manager Boe Stoebner said. Around half of the food served is pre-made and is baked or cooked in the kitchen, while the rest is made from ingredients delivered alongside these food items like fresh produce and salads. “Many of your pizzas and chicken nuggets and that sort of thing are all pre-made, we bake it, we cook it and thats sort of all there is to it,” Stoebner said. On occasion, an item will run short but deliveries of food are not made everyday so it is somewhat of an unavoidable circumstance.

At the end of each day, any food that is still considered edible after being heated to 165 degrees, which kills bacteria and food borne illnesses caused by cross contamination can be served again or used in other meals. Cross contamination, however, can take effect easily because of self serving, when people don’t use tongs and other serving items. Saving food cuts down on waste and saves money by preventing the school from unnecessarily buying more food as as well as keep students safe and healthy.

For the most part, food prepared in the school kitchen cannot be donated to food drives or homeless shelters, only with very few exceptions.  “At the end of the year there are certain products like produce that we’ll donate to the shelter,” Stoebner said.

The three custodians also serve a part in keeping the cafeteria clean. Custodians will empty the trash bins containing hundreds of pounds of waste around three times a day if they are fully staffed, then placing it in the dumpsters which are emptied daily.

The custodians also clean the entire cafeteria at the end of each day, clean the floors, anything on the walls and check to make sure all the tables have been cleaned properly. In total it takes a full eight hour shift to clean the entire eating and serving area as well as the kitchen.

As early as 6 a.m. and as late as 10 p.m. all the cafeteria staff of 13 are cooking, cleaning, and communicating with food providers as well as trash collectors to keep the lunchroom a clean and functional part of the school.