Video editorial: Cafeteria taste test proves staff does a great job at its Herculean task

As part of its efforts to entice hungry students, satisfy thrifty parents, and navigate nutritional standards, the Lampeter-Strasburg cafeteria has recently unveiled some new dishes at both breakfast and lunch, most notably a completely new supplier of ice cream as well as some new hot entrees at breakfast.

LSNews.org conducted an exclusive taste test of both the new hot breakfast dishes and the new ice cream flavors.

Breakfast: The most important meal of the day

The breakfast program has been in existence for several years now district wide, but many students still are unaware of what exactly is served. Rules changes allowing students to eat food during class this year have paved the way for students to purchase breakfast and then eat it in their first period class, which means that even students who ride the bus have time to grab a meal or an a la carte item.

The program began at the urging of Mrs. Teddi Book, the school nurse, who saw a burgeoning number of students coming to her with headaches and stomachaches in the mid-morning. 

"So I did a survey and found that 75% of students never or rarely ate breakfast," she says, "and the main reason was because it was too early.

The grab and go breakfast program thus was born. And although Book says she has not repeated the survey, she thinks the program has helped, and notes that when breakfast is not served on two hour delay days, she sees an uptick in students reporting those conditions that indicate they have not been eating.

Anna Donato, the District's food services manager who has worked at L-S for more than 28 years, says that not only does the general student populace not take advantage of the breakfast program, but also the 23% of students who participate in the National School Lunch Program.

"A lot of students who are eligible don't take advantage of the free and reduced breakfast," says Donato, who goes on to wonder, "Where else are you going to get breakfast for 30 cents?"

A student value breakfast consists of a hot entree, bagel, Uncrustable Peanut Butter & Jelly, or two muffins, as well as a fruit, four ounces of fruit juice, and a milk. This costs $1.40. The hot entrees, many of which have just been introduced recently, are on a five-day rotation corresponding to the day of the week.

Monday: Chocolate Chip Waffle; Tuesday: "Mini Cinnis" (cinnamon rolls), Wednesday: Breakfast Pizza;
Thursday: Apple Frudel; Friday: Egg & Cheese Tortillas
The cafeteria staff have been working to improve the breakfast selections for some time, but nutritional standards have impeded their progress.

"The hardest part is the whole grains," says Donato, referring to a requirement that whole wheat be the first or second ingredient in a product served as a main entree.

Mrs. Becky Lefever, the cafeteria manager at the high school, adds that producers are finally catching up to the new standards, and are now able to provide much better products.

In addition to the taste test on video (see below), LSNews.org staff brought samples of the breakfast items to two classrooms for students to try, and their feedback was almost unanimously progress, with the breakfast pizza and the chocolate waffles being among the favorites.


"It tastes like there's syrup in [the waffle]," says Joey Jordan, a freshman.

In fact, although syrup is available with the waffle at the high school (though not at the elementary school), both panelists and students agreed that it really was not necessary.

Referring to the egg and cheese tortilla, senior Logan Wagner mentioned that "it's a little 'liquidy', but it's still pretty good."

Several students who do not currently purchase breakfast concluded that they would be open to doing so, especially having tasted the new selections.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Notably, the cafeteria recently switched providers for its ice cream, which is available at both breakfast and lunch, although most students take advantage of it at lunch. 

Lefever estimates that on any given day, up to 100 of the high school's 1,000+ students will purchase ice cream. Consequently, it is important to her to make sure they are happy with the choices they have. To that end, she and Donato were comfortable with moving to the new supplier even though it causes some of the selections to increase in price from 65 cents to 75 cents.

"I hate raising prices ... I am very cost conscious," says Donato.
A display of the new ice cream flavors; the ice cream sandwiches
and ice cream cone in the bottom right cost 75 cents, while the
rest cost 65 cents
At the elementary schools, the District stuck with the old supplier to keep all types of ice cream at their original prices, but at the middle and high schools, it switched to Hershey's. 

Now, ice cream sandwiches and a packaged ice cream cone increased in price to 75 cents while the remainder of the ice cream novelties (e.g., chocolate and strawberry eclair, orange creamsicle, cotton candy popsicle) as well as the packaged ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, a strawberry sundae, and raspberry frozen yogurt are now available) -- which Donato is keen to mention is all low-fat and are panelists are keen to mention does not taste like it -- cost 65 cents.

LSNews.org's panel was virtually unanimous in its approval of the new ice cream flavors (see the video below).

Overall, the cafeteria staff has a Herculean task on its hands; students who view it in a negative light may just wish to reconsider that position by giving it a second chance -- we think their stomachs will have a different opinion!


This is the weekly editorial of the LSNews.org editorial board, and reflects the collective opinion of that group as well as the panelists in the attached video. It does not necessarily reflect the position of the Lampeter-Strasburg School District or its administration (although how can anyone dislike a mint ice cream sandwich?). Questions or concerns can be directed to lspioneernews@gmail.com.

--Benjamin Pontz, LSNews.org Editor-In-Chief; Panelists: Alyssa Van Lenten, LSNews.org Local Editor and Pierson Castor, LSNews.org Columnist; Photography and Videography by Joey Shiffer, LSNews.org Contributor


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