One tray is not enough


Marlena Rohde and Darixa Varela Medrano

After the first half of the day and a long wait in the lunch line, it is not uncommon for students to be met with school lunch that is too small, lacking in nutrients, or both. The lunch at Lowell tends to leave students wanting to go back to the lunch line to get another serving, and keeps them drained of energy for the rest of their classes.

SFUSD needs to address our lunch’s small portion size. It is imperative that they make our lunches big enough to sustain students.

There is no reason that the same sized lunches given to preadolescents should be served to students that are almost legal adults. ”

The portion size of school lunch is underwhelming and not enough to sustain high school students. Looking at the cafeteria lunch line is enough to reveal options that are unreasonably small in the eyes of our student body. It is generally agreed upon that 18 year olds need more food than 11 year olds, but according to SFUSD’s menu page, the menu at Lowell is shared by multiple middle schools. A.P. Giannini, a middle school also using the same menu, has portion sizes and menu plans that are exactly the same as Lowell. There is no way to distinguish between the food that is given to high schoolers and that which is given to middle school children. There is no reason that the same sized lunches given to preadolescents should be served to students that are almost legal adults. 

The actual numbers are incriminating. SchoolCafe provides nutrition information about SFUSD lunches. Most of the entrees are only around 350-400 calories, and meals only total up to around 500-550 when fruits, vegetables, and milk are included. For example, the hotdog is 305 calories, and the cheesy bread and tomato sauce is 368. A typical meal of a pupusa, milk, carrots, and an apple only amounts to 555 calories. However, the California Department of Education requires that high schoolers should have 750-850 calories a day for lunch. With these figures, it is undeniable that students need to get more than what is being provided. In addition, to even hit the 500 calorie mark, Lowellites need to take milk, but many people do not or cannot drink milk, which cuts them off from a critical part of what little caloric value there is in the first place. Calories are a measure of energy, and we are not getting the amount of energy that is necessary to make it through each school day. If we want to have a more productive student body, it is essential that SFUSD presents us with a proper amount of energy.

We are not getting the amount of energy that is necessary to make it through each school day.”

It would be too much of an exaggeration to say that all the food is nutrient deficient. The turkey sandwich carries a good amount of vitamins and food groups. Mixing this with the fruits or vegetables and milk makes a healthy meal. In addition, pasta dishes like the alfredo or spaghetti have 607 calories and 30 grams of protein, but also come with over 1000 grams of sodium and 10 grams of saturated fat. The pasta lunches may not be the best for students in terms of nutritional value but they have enough substance and energy to help students get through the day. If every option was like this, Lowell’s lunch would be something that students can rely on. Unfortunately, there are very few meals like this and if the school district wants us to have a proper diet, they need to make sure we have options like this every day.

Portion size only scratches the surface of the problems. More issues arise with the lack of options for those with dietary restrictions or how individuals from low income backgrounds rely on an inadequate school lunch, but the most dire concern right now is that the school simply does not provide enough food with its meals for any student.

The health of students should be a priority for the school and that starts with proper lunches. At the moment, the amount of food in our lunch is not enough. Lowell needs to almost double the size of our lunches in order to provide a healthy level of nutrition for our school.

Darixa Varela Medrano