CHESTERTON | Chesterton High School’s cafeteria has a new look to reflect the new menu, and school administrators say the students are really eating it up.
Kay Nallenweg, director of food services, said that when the school was built 12 years ago, the cafeteria was designed in a way that is no longer conducive to the current food selections and requirements.
“The way the cafeteria was made was to imitate fast-food restaurants. You get French fries, mozzarella sticks, cheeseburgers — that was the era when the cafeteria was built, but it’s not anymore,” Nallenweg said.
Because of state regulations banning trans fats from school lunches, the fryers are no longer used, so, Nallenweg said, this year she got to fulfill her wish to eliminate them from her equipment.
“There were 10 fryer baskets and we ripped them out. I’ve always wanted to do that. Instead we installed a huge Baxter oven. It holds two tray racks at one time, and we bake our food now — no frying — or it’s all fresh,” she said.
As a result, students not only have more healthy options, they have healthy requirements.
“I always felt we’ve offered healthy foods but now we’re just enforcing it more. And our participation is increasing immensely. Students are taking everything, which is great,” Nallenweg said.
Entrees in what Nallenweg describes as more of a “food court” atmosphere include a special wrap or special sandwich of the day, which is made to order in front of the student, then served either cold or steamed hot.
“The kids love it. We also have fresh salads made with buffalo chicken, grilled chicken, a chef salad, or a garden salad every day, along with special salads like a cobb salad or spinach strawberry salad. They are also offered two different soups every day, and after their entrée there is a garden bar with a fresh fruit or vegetable and hummus,” she said.
Nallenweg said that the remodel and new selections is not only a hit with students, but also something the servers really support.
“The staff is really excited and the remodel is good for them too because they don’t stand behind a counter or in front of a fryer anymore. They’re right there with the students, interacting, making sure they’re eating what they’re supposed to,” she said.