2006-05-04 / News

Kids speak out about hot lunch

By Donna K. Drago

Lunch line Middle school students go through the hot lunch line at the Lawn Avenue School Monday Photo by Donna Drago Lunch line Middle school students go through the hot lunch line at the Lawn Avenue School Monday Photo by Donna Drago Hot dogs, two of them, slathered with ketchup and sitting next to a pile of tater nuggets, were on the plates of everyone who got a hot lunch at the Lawn Avenue school Monday.

Billed as "Double Dogs," the dish was consumed by several kids who bought a hot lunch that day, and most of them thought it to be a pretty good lunch.

Michael Jordan, in grade 6, described the tater nuggets as "salty and crunchy," and added that they did not taste of "plastic." Generally speaking, hot lunch is "not a bad thing," according to Jordan, but his favorite day of the lunch week is Friday, when the selection is personal pizzas.

Rachelle Reppe and Ivy Burns, also in grade 6 said that moving from Melrose school to Lawn saw a great improvement in the lunch options, and they agreed that the pizza is very good.

Burns said there were "some gross things" like the "teriyaki something," adding "I don't know what it is," and the "breaded thing with beef" leaves something to be desired, as well. Burns, who bought the grilled cheese on Monday, said it was very good.

Reppe, a strong supporter of the "a la carte," offerings, which can be bought separately from the hot lunch offerings, said that the stuffed crust pizza from the cart is

excellent," and even added an enthusiastic "mmmmmmmm," to enhance her description of the popular item. But some days, they offer the "tuna mysterious sandwich," Reppe said, wrinkling her nose.

Everyone at the grade 6 table agreed that the very worst thing served at the school is the roasted turkey with gravy and mashed potatoes, which is "gummy" and doesn't taste good, and the "buttery noodles" on the Pasta Express day can be "rubbery," according

Michael Jordan.

"May I offer a suggestion?" asked Amina Brown, at a grade 5 table, "because the food at Melrose is gross." Brown said that the hot lunch there has only one selection, unlike the Lawn options, and "it's all things that kids don't like." She described once getting some mashed potatoes "with blue stuff in them," noting, "I don't think it was supposed to be there."

Victoria Rosa, also in grade 5, was eating the chicken burger on Monday, and said it was pretty good. Meredith Cote and Julia Thompson, all in grade 5, were also happy with their school lunches. Rosa said her favorite selection is the "Nachos Supreme," which is scheduled for Wednesday, and the three agreed with the grade 6 table that the turkey and gravy is "nasty."

The hot lunch, at $2.50, includes a hot entree, side vegetables and fruit, and a carton of milk. As an alternative, students can also get a chicken burger, grilled cheese, a deli sandwich, or

salad with milk for the same amount. There is also a yogurt bar with fresh fruit for $2.80, according to Sherry Hazelton, the school's head cook, who is employed by the North Kingstown food service department.

Hazelton said that most kids ordered the hot dogs on Monday and the chicken nuggets were the next most popular item. She said she typically gets between 80 and 120 students ordering lunch every day at the Lawn school, with the highest numbers on Friday, when they have pizza.

Hazelton noted that she sees more kids buying lunch at school now than she did when she first started working in Jamestown seven years ago, she added that the grade 5 students are the biggest consumers of the hot lunch.

The Press asked what's with the turkey and gravy? Hazelton said while she has seen some displeased faces, "there are a lot of kids who like that." She added, "if it didn't sell, we'd take it off the menu."

Al Bears, the cook's assistant for six years who runs the a la carte department, said that kids can buy items to supplement their lunches from home or get a light lunch like a bagel with cream cheese for $1. Yogurt is 65 cents, chips are 75 cents, and there is the popular stuffed crust pizza for $1.85, Bears said. Beverages like bottled water, juice, and Gatorade range from 75 cents for bottled water to $1.50 for vitamin water, which Bears said they sell as fast as they get it in.

Hazelton said she stocks some fresh fruit on the cart, but "very few" students buy an apple or banana.

When the grade 7 and 8 students came to lunch on Monday, the line for the a la carte went out the door.

Students loaded up on packaged Goldfish crackers, bagels, and other crunchy snack foods.

Devon McMaster, in grade 8, was eating a chicken patty on a bun. He said it was good, but noted that it would be better "if it was real chicken."

Dylan Walsh, also in grade 8, said he didn't always buy hot lunch but bought on Monday because "I like hot dogs." Ashlin Gillis in grade 7 was happy with her hot dog lunch and noted, "It's all okay."

Andy Sakovits, in grade 7, is completely anti hot lunch.

"It looks really bad for you," Sakovits said, while emptying his brown bag to show the peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread, and a bag of green grapes. "Now this is a healthy lunch," Sakovits said about what he brought from home.

Sitting across from Sakovits was Mike Schnack Jr., who described his hot lunch as if it were on the menu at the Ritz. He pointed out that his spicy cajun chicken sandwich was very healthy for him because it contained protein in the chicken and the milk, he said the baked beans were "extremely good," and the tater nuggets were healthy because they were vegetables.

"I get it every day," the satisfied Schnack enthused.

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