Rising lunch prices equate to better health for community, environment

MaryCateTabor

Marian girls swipe their lunch cards for a chicken salad and three cookies for a total of $6.50. Just yesterday it seemed that it was only $5.50 for the whole lunch. Lots of girls are left with the question as to why lunch prices seem to have increased so much over the past few years.


Some of the many reasons for the increase in lunch prices is sustainable packaging and the need to buy more individually packaged items.

“I think Marian’s lunch staff does an amazing job of keeping everyone safe and is very efficient getting people in and out of the lunch room,” senior Liza Heim said, adding that she “never [has] to worry about packing a lunch,” with the various options offered in the cafeteria.  

The lunch program has been the same for the past few years, but cannot serve certain items in the weekly rotation this year in order to be as efficient and safe as possible. They do not want many people in the cafeteria at the same time waiting in lines because of COVID-19, so the foods now available are easier to prepare. 

When it comes to the prices of the food, they are determined by many factors. New salad containers increased the salad portion size and an extra chicken tender has been added this year, too.  French fries have almost doubled in price from last year’s distributor.

Much of the food comes in sustainable packaging that can be composted, as opposed to the regular packaging that goes straight to the landfill. The slight raise in prices comes partially from the new compostable packaging. 

On the front of sustainability, Marian is still participating in the Hillside Solutions program for composting and recycling. 

“Right now the problem is that we don’t have enough people to monitor the trash cans,” Dean of Students Mrs. Kris Hennings said. Returning Marian students may remember helping clean up after lunches last year with the Cafe Crew. The effort to bring more student awareness to sustainability will be coming back in January. 

Principal Susie Sullivan says that the Cafe Cleanup Crew will be starting back up and these homeroom crews will be reinforcing the use of proper compost, recycling and trash bins.  They will also help with cleaning tables.  The compost bins will also be removed after the lunch hour so that after-hours waste isn’t placed into the wrong container without being monitored.

“An example of why we raised the prices is that they are having to buy more individual items so there is less cross contamination,” lunch coordinator Tim Eoriatti said. 

One example of these changes is mozzarella sticks. “Last year the marinara sauce was scooped onto the plate for each person, but this year to have less cross contamination, they have to buy individually wrapped sauces, which cost 50 cents a piece, so they must raise the cost by 50 cents to cover that extra cost,” Eoriatti said.  

The lunch staff has six employees who work very hard every day to prepare lunch. When determining the price of the food, along with all of the other factors, they must also allow a margin of profit for employee wages. 

Another change in the past two years is the Marian Moms lunch prices. “The cost was $4 for a very long time. Two years ago we increased it by $1 and this was due to the increase of beef, produce and paper products,” Assistant to the Principal Mrs. Michelle Delisi said. “The profits from the lunch program goes to things you might not have expected, such as classroom items, a post prom donation and a scholarship,” she said. 

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The Network is the student newspaper of Marian High School, Nebraska's only Class A College-Preparatory School for young women.

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