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The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

The Voice of the Tyrone Area High School

Tyrone Eagle Eye News

Tyrone Students Share Opinions on School Lunch

Hailey Lowery
Tyrone students answered two Eagle Eye surveys on the quality of school lunches at Tyrone Area High School. Pictured are lunches from February 2, 2024.

For many students, school lunches are their most reliable source of nutrition.  In fact, 80% of American students said that school lunches are easy to get, convenient, and allow their families to save money.

However, the same national survey found that only 64% of students said that school lunches taste good, and only 55% called them high quality.

The same study also said that 87% of teens would be more likely to purchase school meals if they knew their school gathered feedback from students about how to improve them.

The USDA sets specific guidelines on foods that we can and cannot serve as well as requiring we go through approved vendors for ordering all products. Each meal has to meet the guidelines for defined components such as meat, grain, fruit, and vegetable

— TASD Food Service Director Danielle Dempsie

To help the cafeteria improve school lunches, the Eagle Eye conducted two surveys of Tyrone High School students about the quality of school lunches in the last year.

In January 2023, 208 students chose to participate in an email survey that was sent to all students in grades 9-12, and in the most recent survey conducted in January 2024, 52 students participated.

Click the link below to see some of the survey findings:

School Lunch Survey

In 2023, over 80% of the students who responded said that they eat food served in the cafeteria often. When asked if the food at the cafeteria tasted good, 57.6% said that the quality of the food was adequate or better, and 43.4% said that it was less than adequate.

The most common student complaint was the size of portions, with 75.5% of students saying that the portions at the cafeteria were too small.

“The food is undersized and poorly made. for such a ‘great school’ we have terrible food. we need food to function, its like going on a road trip with no gas. without a proper meal, students can’t perform as well. and for some students who are less fortunate the school food might be the only meal they have all day, so every lunch counts,” said senior Chris Escala.

However, according to the Director of Food Service Danielle Dempsie, much of what the cafeteria can serve is dictated by government regulations, so they are limited in what they can offer.

“The USDA sets specific guidelines on foods that we can and cannot serve as well as requiring we go through approved vendors for ordering all products. Each meal has to meet the guidelines for defined components such as meat, grain, fruit, and vegetable,” said Dempsey.

As for the entrees that students liked the most, the popcorn chicken bowl was the most popular menu item with 149 votes. Italian dunkers were second with 129 votes, and mac and cheese was third with 100 votes.

In this year’s survey, walking tacos were first, with popcorn chicken and Italian dunkers coming in second and third.

Dempsie said that the entree on the menu does not significantly affect the number of meals served on that day, but student preferences are reflected in how many entrees are served versus the alternate menu items.

“Total meal counts are about the same every day. What we do see on days that the above items are being served is the alternate menu items such as pizza, chicken or burgers decrease and the number of main entrees sold increase [on days when popular menu items are offered],” Dempsie said.

When asked to identify their least favorite entrees, students in last year’s survey said fish sticks were their most disliked item with 151 votes, sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches were tied with BBQ rib sandwiches for second and third least-favorite with 91 votes each.

The three least-liked menu items in this year’s survey were chicken and rice, chicken nuggets, and corn dog nuggets.

The Eagle Eye also asked what items students would like to see added to the menu, and the top three most requested items this year were Bosco sticks (a brand name for bread sticks filled with cheese and/or pepperoni, cheese and sauce), mozzarella sticks, and garlic parmesan chicken.

One other common suggestion was to have bottled water as a beverage option.

“We water instead of milk. Why am I drinking chocolate milk with pizza that makes no sense. and then I have to pay for water?” Escala said.

Dempsie said that some of these suggestions might be possible, but not all.

“Because of our guidelines, we would not be able to serve Bosco sticks unless it were through an approved vendor and met the requirements for meat/ meat alternatives,” said Dempsey, “We do serve mozzarella sticks at the café as a la carte, but they could not be served as a meal. We could absolutely take a look at garlic chicken parm.”

According to Dempsie, one consideration that has to be made when the menu is planned is the amount of time that it takes to prepare each entree.

“Things like Italian dunkers do not take much time because they are ready to serve from the freezer. Items like walking tacos or the popcorn chicken bowl require more time to prepare as they involve multiple ingredients. We try to balance the menu with items that are favorites, along with items that require less time to prepare to create more prep time for the others,” Dempsie said.

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About the Contributor
Grace Naylor
Grace Naylor, Staff Writer
Grace is a sophomore at Tyrone Area High School. This is Grace’s first year in Eagle Eye as a staff member. Grace plays softball and basketball. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends and family. Grace likes writing about school sports and other fun activities within the school. Grace is a member of All Eagles, a club dedicated to student inclusion. She also is in the National Honor Society. Grace is a part of the Eagle Eye Yearbook. Her favorite subject in school is Math. When Grace gets out of high school, she wants to attend a 4-year college to be a teacher for Elementary Special Education students. Grace is excited to write stories!

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