Is it still safe to eat a school lunch everyday?


Photo by Sue Cassata

East High School students eating between dividers in the school cafeteria. These dividers have been mandated by LPS to block the spread of COVID 19.

Year after year, thousands of students from the vast Lincoln area eat the school-provided breakfasts and lunches. The meals have changed over the years to accommodate new health regulations, dietary practices, and currently Covid 19. With dividers, and frenzied hand washing, advanced sanitary measures have been heavily enforced. Notably, in the lunchroom. Compared to the beginning of the year, the schools across Lincoln have scrambled to adapt to the rolling tides of the Covid 19 pandemic. Sue Cassata, the East High principal, elaborates on the adaptations to the school day.
“At the start of the school year, we let kids socially distance themselves,” Sue Cassata said. “Nobody was as strict as we have to be now.”
With all the new guidelines that LPS has sanctioned for cleanliness, the question has to be asked: Is it really safe for students to eat the school food right now? According to Lynn Goering, a dietician in Nutrition Services at LPS, “Inspectors consistently report that school kitchens are the cleanest kitchens in town,” Lynn said. “All surfaces are cleaned and sanitized multiple times throughout the day,” ensuring that the food is prepared in a safe environment.
As of late, LPS has updated and enforced guidelines regarding the lunchroom, limiting each student’s contact with other students as much as they can. While the school is enforcing the new rules, one of the main priorities is continuing to maintain a strong social environment. The staff and administration understand that many students come to school to interact with their friends.
“We’re trying to encourage as much normalcy as possible,” Sue Cassata said.
Currently, most students are back inside the school building. And with free meals, students have the opportunity to eat the school food more than ever. While the kitchens remain clean, taking advantage of the chargeless food is up to the consumers.
The choice between eating the school-provided food, or bringing food from home varies person to person. Principal Cassata said she doesn’t think it’s ‘either or.’ She said that including this year, the school food is more than satisfactory for a variety of students. It’s up to the individual to decide what and how they want to eat.