By Mady Buerck
Paleo, Gluten-free, Raw, Vegetarian, Pescaterian, and Vegan Diets are among the many ways humans have adapted their eating habits. Typically, following one of these specialized diets is an intentional choice by the person, but the same cannot be said about food allergens. Whether the dietary choice be intentional or out of your control, either way, trying to abide by a dietary restriction is difficult when most, if not all, options for meals include the very foods you are are in efforts to avoid. This limiting environment is the exact situation for FHS. Despite FHS having 6 food lines, an Ala Carte, Knights locker, vending machines, and the Wise Knights Cafe, there is typically only one or no options at all for those with special diets.
Ryan Fuemmeler and I sat down with the Food Service Director for the Farmington School District, Erin Crites, to talk about what is going on within our school’s cafeteria. Erin informed us that our school district has certain requirements for a meal’s contents. “We actually have 5 different components that we have to serve everybody to have a healthy and well balanced meal. You have to have a meat, you have to have a fruit, a vegetable, milk, and a grain” (Erin Crites). With there being a requirement for a grain, gluten-free or those with Celiac disease cannot eat the options at the school without modifications to the meal. With there also being a requirement for animal products like meat and milk in a meal, the only option for vegetarian and vegan students is the limited salad bar.
FHS student and vegan, Rebekah Kimpel, expresses the inconvenience of the school’s menu for those with special diets, “It is impossible to eat a filling nutritious meal at FHS that does not contain animal products. FHS does not prioritize the health of the students, which is shown by the lack of healthy choices such as raw fruits and vegetables. Although it does save money, processed animal products neither fill the students up nor provide them with the nutrients they need to grow, learn, and participate in sports. The majority of individuals eating plant-based diets at FHS bring their lunches, arguing that the school lunch is neither filling nor nutritious. FHS should provide accessibility to healthier options for the students who: choose to eat healthier, want to better the environment, stand up for animal cruelty, have specific allergies or conditions, or are a part of a religion that limits their dining options. Instead of prioritizing the funds to go towards televisions or new gyms, the FHS as a whole should put more money towards bettering the health of the community.” Coach Stone, a vegetarian teacher at FHS, mentions similar concerns for the health of students, “I believe that the laws of the country should do everything possible to assure that public schools are feeding students healthy, nutritious foods on a daily basis. As I tell my runners, your food is your fuel, so bad food equals bad fuel. We can’t expect our bodies to operate at an optimal level, in sports, or in the classroom, if we aren’t feeding it properly.”
Many students continuously voice their concerns with the school’s meals, and it seems there is a need for change. Farmington High School’s food director is willing to adapt the school’s menu items based off demand. Though it is likely that items like chili and crispitos will continue to thrive at FHS, there is a possibility for a larger range of menu items, for many types of diets, at our school. So, look out, because our cafeteria may be in the mists of change!