“Fresh. Wholesome. Made from scratch.” This is what you see right on the homepage of the Quest website. Sounds like a pretty great slogan that our school lunch meal providers have. Except our food might not be living up to those expectations.
It is a bit humorous to say that the boxes filled with frozen, processed chicken strips, loaded with fat calories, sent to a school where they sat in warming containers all day before being served to unsuspecting kids are labeled fresh and wholesome. I wish I could be able to say that what I purchase for lunch every day is good for my body and my wallet, yet I struggle to find an ideal meal choice which will both fill me up and be a healthy option.
Just the other day, I was served three tiny meatballs, each one barely the size of a quarter, on a bun. It confuses me as to how I can be served this and a carton milk for a whopping $3.25 and be expected to properly function with such a low-nutrition meal for the rest of the day.
Sadly, I do understand why we are given such small servings for such high prices: everything is profit driven. You see, if they give us small meals at first, then we will still be hungry and want to buy something else. That’s where they hike up the prices. I can go the store and get an entire one pound bag of fresh grapes for about $3. Yet at school, I can purchase 12 for the same price.
At this point, most people wonder why I don’t just purchase something with more substance. Perhaps I could do that and buy a burrito. But once you try that, it goes into this sort of auction where everything is extra. Do you want sour cream? Twenty-five cents extra. Pico de gallo? Twenty-five cents extra. Beans, in a Mexican dish? That’ll still cost an extra twenty-five cents, despite being an essential part of any Mexican meal. All of those extra quarters add up in the end, and your once-$5 burrito, morphs into a $7.25 wallet-buster.
To make it worse, it seems as if the prices of certain items go up every single year. For instance, a small box of fries is now $2.25. Last time I checked, I could buy a 5-pound bag of fresh potatoes at a store for $2.55, and make my own french fries. Not only would that taste better, but it would be healthier too. If only they followed the slogan, we could get fresh, delicious fries. Yet, fresh food isn’t economical, which brings us back to the magic words: profit-driven.
Now understandably, the convenience of purchasing school lunch over purchasing food from the store and making a lunch is definitely a plus. However, I find it very reasonable for the food services to purchase the high quality, fresh food at a higher price, yet still, sell the food for the same price as they do now and still gain profit. That way, the options would be much healthier, and the food provider would still gain money. Yes, this does mean cutting profits, but right now, the profit margins are very large, considering processed foods are cheap and they are sold at such high prices in the cafeteria, which means spending a little more money for fresh, healthier options, means a little bit less money. But isn’t the health and well-being of the students more important than making a lot of money?