Here at Carmel High School, students are lucky enough to have plenty of good food available in the cafeteria.
Bo Brothers, the stalwart champion of the cause, proclaims the cafeteria news over the intercom on a daily basis, while students from all walks of life can be found waiting in line for their pizza bagels on any given Thursday.
Yet, not all is well. If sales don’t pick up, students could be barred from the newly-established salad bar—according to a recent email from Principal Rick Lopez, the cafeteria’s newest addition is already at risk of closure due to a lack of patronage.
The salad bar, which is currently available every Wednesday in the cafeteria, features “local, organic produce from Watsonville, Salinas and Castroville,” with selections ranging from purple cauliflowers and heritage baby tomatoes to “Persian cucumbers grown locally using organic fish emulsions.”
But in spite of the cornucopia of options, it seems that most kids aren’t biting; the same email message asserted that “we need to increase the number of students who eat at the salad bar in order to continue providing it.”
Denise McGregor, food service director for the Carmel Unified School District, says that this is not the first attempt at housing leafy greens in the cafeteria.
“We have had a salad at CHS off and on over the last six years…but due to staffing, when participation is low [it must be replaced] with something else,” McGregor says. And these replacement options aren’t always quite as healthy—in the past, this has meant sandwich bars, nacho bars and grilled burger bars.
With teens across the country criticizing the strict culinary standards set in place by the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids” and “Let’s Move!” acts, it would seem that the salad bar could meet a demand for healthy food that’s actually edible (i.e. doesn’t resemble a hardtack biscuit). However, awareness of and support for the salad bar is surprisingly low amongst CHS’ normally eco-savvy student body.
Why is that?
The CHS salad bar doesn’t have cutesy sporks, artisan packaging or high price tags—it has good and honest salad, sans gimmicks. And as such, maybe the lack of support can be explained by the way some salad fanatics favor superficial values over authenticity. After all, how could a humble cafeteria compete with the eco-hipster cachet of the local Whole Foods (whose indisputable corporate nature is apparently irrelevant, given its sheer cool factor)?
At the end of the day, only one thing is certain—that the salad bar needs student support to stay afloat. So, if CHS students want to see more sustainable and local options available on campus, then they should vote with their dollars and consider giving the salad bar a shot.
Hopefully, this is the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg lettuce, that is.