Sloppy Joe? More Like Sloppy No!

Tyrone students rate the TAHS cafeteria

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Sloppy Joe? More Like Sloppy No!

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High school students complaining about cafeteria food is about as cliche as it gets.  But while the results of a recent Eagle Eye survey prove that Tyrone students have no love for sloppy joes, they are surprisingly more satisfied with their school lunches than might be expected.

Over half of the over 200 respondents indicated that they were either somewhat satisfied (48.9%) or very satisfied (4.9%) with the quality of the food in the cafeteria while 55% were either somewhat or very satisfied with the selection of food available in the cafeteria.

The survey was completed by Tyrone High School students via the Eagle Eye News website from November 7-15, 2017.  Only students with a valid email address could respond and each student was limited to one response.  Of the approximately 500 students in grades 9-12 who regularly eat lunch in the cafeteria, 204 responded to the survey (click here to see the full results).

Students were asked their opinions on the quality, selection, and price of the cafeteria food as well as their most favorite and least favorite entrees.  Results of the surveys were shared with the cafeteria administration in order to help them improve.

Cafeteria results infographic

An overwhelming 66.2% of students said their favorite entree is the popcorn chicken bowl, followed by the holiday meals (35.3%) and breakfast for lunch (33.3%).

“I know popcorn chicken bowl is very popular, which is why we try to put it on the menu at least once a month,” said cafeteria supervisor Andrew Smith. “Although we have to watch the amount of sodium we put in the food because of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Sodium is the toughest when it comes to staying inside the guidelines.”

As for least favorites, 21.1% of the students said that their least favorite entree is sloppy joes, followed by ham and potato au gratin (20.6%) and cheese dogs in a blanket (19.1%).

“I will try to avoid putting sloppy joes on the menu as often as possible,” said Smith, “and I will reach out to the corporation to try and make a change after seeing this statistic.”

The TAHS cafeteria is run by The Nutrition Group, a Pennsylvania company that provides nearly half a million meals a day for a variety of customers, ranging from K-12 schools, senior programs, and correctional facilities.

According to Smith, the district follows a state-run program that gives the cafeteria recipes. Each month, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) gives the district a certain amount of product. If that product does not get used up, the district runs the risk of losing their allotment the following year.

The biggest complaint among students are the prices in the cafeteria.

Over 33% of the respondents felt that they were “somewhat unsatisfied” (33.5%) with the prices, while 28% said that they were “not satisfied at all” with the prices.

Sophomore Caleb Orr is one of the students who think that the prices are too high.

“I would cheapen the snack prices. They are outrageous. I also want the option just to walk in and buy a single item, like a singular apple,” said Orr.

A number of students who made comments on the survey said that the portions should be larger. Others complained about the selection or the quality of the entrees and a la carte items.

“I think the cafeteria can improve by making their crispy chicken salad actually crispy and not soggy. Maybe use actual chicken and not chicken nuggets. I also think there should be at least one drink [other than milk] that can come with your meal because nobody likes drinking milk every day. I also think they should try harder on the meals, maybe add a little bit of salt when needed,” said freshman McKenna Chronister.

“It drives me crazy that they very rarely have bananas, and when they do they are almost never ripe,” said junior Anna Beck.

Other students complained that water is not a free option for a drink.

“Add more drinks and snacks. Also, provide [a larger portion] of the food. The amount they give us can hardly hold over a person of high school age,” said freshman Nick Lewis.

Several students mentioned that sometimes the cafeteria either runs out of food or the food is not hot for the students in “C” lunch, the last of the three high school lunch periods.

Smith was not surprised to hear many of the complaints but stated that some of them are out of his control.

“Both the prices and the portion sizes are out of [mine and the] district’s hands,” said Smith, “A program called PrimeroEdge sets prices and sizes we have to adhere to. They often run a nutritional analysis, so we have to stay within the guidelines.  Although, I will see what I can do to make improvements after seeing the results of the survey.”

I will try to avoid putting sloppy joes on the menu as often as possible and I will reach out to the corporation to try and make a change after seeing this statistic”

— Andrew Smith


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