By Faith Miller
McNicholas High School’s Café and Student Union offers students and teachers a number of food choices every day, from pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese to deli sandwiches and chicken tenders. However, some students and teachers feel as though there should be some alternate options for vegetarians, vegans, and people with other dietary limitations.
Theology teacher Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth, a vegetarian, mainly packs his lunch but occasionally buys from the Café. “[The café] is more limited, so as a result I tend to pack my lunch,” Hutchinson-Smyth said. He also said that he would like to see more fresh meals available in the Café.
Since she is a vegan, senior Kiernan Meakin doesn’t buy from the Café often. When she does decide to eat meals from the Café, she feels that there are not many options for her. She would like to see food that “doesn’t have the cheese sauce or meat on it.”
Senior Lauren Steinkuhl often buys from the Café. However, it is hard for her to find foods she can eat other than salad and fries since she is a vegetarian. She said she would like to see “more vegetarian options and more foods that weren’t just meals adapted from meals with meat.”
As for senior Janie Ferris, she may pack her lunch most of the time due to her being a vegetarian. However, she still enjoys the salad bar that is available during lunches. Ferris also believes that if the Café did have more vegetarian options, McNicholas would be on a path that is more eco-friendly and healthy.
Kitchen manager Donna Spears said that the Café does offer some vegetarian and vegan meals depending on the menus, such as black bean burgers. However, she said most of the vegetarian and vegan items are in the convenience store area, including apples, hummus and pretzels, grapes, and bagels. Vegetarians have a few more options like yogurt and cheese. Meals like cheese pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese also meet the vegetarian diet. French fries and tater tots, common staples of the McNick Café, meet vegan needs, and the salad bar can be customized to vegetarian and vegan diets too.
Spears said that the problem with having vegetarian meals regularly is that they tend to not sell as well as other meals. “If a vegetarian wants something, let me know,” she said. She added that she’s open to suggestions from students and staff on what they would like to see in the Café. “If I knew what they wanted, [there would be more options],” she said. Spears said to let her know if a student has any recommendations. She also placed a comment box on the board next to the RefreshMe kiosks, along with some healthy nutrition facts.