The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Analyzing Student Dissatisfaction with Sodexo

Kaya Schultz, Royson Folas, Tyra Hughes, News and Politics Editor, Athletics and Editorials, Copy Editor

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At lunchtime at West Orange High School, students finally get a break after three hours of rigorous school work. Only except their options for school lunch are limited to Sodexo, the food service company that has been at the forefront of controversy among students. Although Sodexo provides for variety of universities, schools and countries world wide, school lunch is unfortunately what gives them the most negative attention.  

At West Orange High School, many people have expressed complaints over the quality, portions and price of the school lunch that Sodexo provides. Over the course of 3 months, we have conducted research that specifically addresses the general student dissatisfaction with Sodexo school lunch.

In a survey of roughly 500 students, which accounts for approximately ¼ of the WOHS student population, 1 percent rated the quality of the Sodexo school lunch a 5 out of 5 stars and a staggering 70.6 percent rated it a 1 or  2.

While the argument can be made that this is just the stereotypical student opinion bashing their school, “Is it Bad For You.com” suggests that there is some truth to the popular opinion. “Is It Bad For You” is a team composed of doctors, medical experts, and nutritionists who work to educate people worldwide by rating a wide array of foods. Upon analyzing the quality of Sodexo’s food, they gave it an “F” rating. They say, “Sodexo is not healthy. They are a mass produced food service company with great marketing. The food may sound healthy, but it is heavily processed and high in carbohydrates, fat, and chemicals.” Studies have shown that the fat, high sodium, and unknown processing chemicals found in Sodexo school lunch can lead to obesity, hypertension, and heart disease.

Being that the school lunch potentially puts students at a health risk, it doesn’t help that the portions don’t make up for the price of lunch. Another large issue surrounding school lunch are the portions of food given the students. 82.4% of the students surveyed are not content with the portions given to them during lunch. These students gave Sodexo a one or two star rating for their portions. One student says “They feed us like we are two years of age,”.

Although the school lunch does meet the New Jersey School Lunch Laws, many students steer away from the “healthier” options such as the vegetables and fruits served with lunch and purchase snacks instead. When you take into consideration the minimal amount of quality nourishment provided by the school, the question of fair pricing comes into play.

It is important for students to eat lunch because it benefits their academic performance at school, but when students are unable to buy lunch, their financial struggles ultimately affects their education. 29.2% of students said that they eat the school lunch everyday, but as one student put it, “that doesn’t mean that it is good”. The point can be made that nearly half of the West Orange High School population is on the free and reduced lunch program, which means they eat the school lunch because they have to.

When asked how many days a week students eat the school lunch, the most common response was five days a week, which was about 30%. The second highest percentage was 0 days a week, with about 19% of the students. This can lead to the conclusion that those who cannot afford another lunch option are forced to eat the unhealthy school lunch, and those that can chose not to and either bring their own lunch or don’t eat at all.

Aside from the quality, price and quantity of school lunch, basic sanitation seems to be problem as well. Upon ordering her lunch, one student was surprised to see that there was a bug in her sandwich.

Based on the student dissatisfaction of school lunch, a possible solution would be the establishment of food trucks. Nearby school districts such as Montclair have implemented food trucks within their town and high school students grades 10 through 12 are allowed to leave campus to purchase food. In 2017, the Montclair school district also implemented a new food service contract with Pomptonian, a Fairfield based company. With the choice of Pomptonian school lunch, food trucks and off campus food services, students in Montclair have a lot of options in terms of school lunch. Perhaps if Sodexo school lunch had more competition such as food trucks or another food service like Pomptonian, the BOE would subsidise more money toward school lunch within the district.

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