Attention Camas High School: school lunches may have changed, and not for the better, but do not blame the lunch ladies.
Complaints from kitchen staff and students have brought attention to the noticeably substandard food quality. The issue is not how the food is prepared, it is what the school now receives: commodity food versus Syscofood.
If students understand where the food the kitchen serves comes from, they will better appreciate all the hard work that goes into making the dishes. The food items that Camas receives come from two sources: government commodities and Sysco.
Government commodities are food items which are provided to schools to help reduce the cost of school lunches. Camas also has the luxury of ordering food from Sysco who provides services for high-quality restaurants. Commodity foods have to be used first before food from Sysco can be ordered. The school receives cash reimbursements for using the commodity program.
Even though the quality of the food differs greatly, the price never changes. What may be considered decent food one month or even for one week may be almost inedible the next. This is due to the lack of regulations that are put on commodity food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the food to make sure a meal has the right amount of nutrition, not that the food is appetizing, this attempts to combat the obesity epidemic among teenagers.
This is the reason the school pizzas have dropped drastically in size. The once glorious pizzas have turned into small bites of food. Sophomore Kimmy Boone, says, “The school lunches are frozen and unhealthy for the well being of the students.”
Lisa Schneider, a kitchen staff member at CHS, says part of the problem is in the supply chain. “There needs to be continuity between commodity food items and Sysco food items because this will allow for quality control over what is being served on a daily basis.”
Another recent change of note is the noodles served in the North Commons. The latest noodles were of poor quality, and this was all due to commodity foods, not the lunch staff. That meal costs $3.20, and Camas gets reimbursed to make and sell these noodles, but it comes at an even greater cost to the lunch ladies.
Schneider comments, “I take pride in my work of serving the students and staff at Camas. When we can’t provide quality food and quality service in the same transaction it gets frustrating knowing that we have no control over the actual food that is being served.” The staff is currently working on changing the noodles.
So, while the problem has been identified and solutions are underway, the lunch staff asks for patience as the commodity versus Sysco fiasco goes on.