Homemade lunch options were made available to Holliston High School students every Tuesday in the cafeteria this past March.
Food Service department head, Ms. Holly Everett, started these new lunch options, or what she calls “Madness Tuesdays” in correlation with “March Madness.” Madness Tuesdays is one of Everett’s many creative ideas brought to life to add “diversity [and] to expose students to different dishes that they may never have a chance to taste,” said Everett in an email.
Students may have seen these lunches in the cafeteria already as they are served on distinguishable black trays instead of the traditional white Styrofoam ones.
Everett clarifies that these “homemade meals” are considered homemade because of their fresh contents, non-processed ingredients and the fact that Everett hand makes the meals every Tuesday morning.
“I don’t add. Mine is fresh,” Everett said when talking about her food. “It’s what I serve at the restaurant,” she added, referring to her work as a chef at the restaurant Rossie’s, “Just smaller portions.”
Some of the meals have included chicken parmesan on spaghetti and breaded haddock with beans and a roll.
The healthiness of the lunches are a real pride for Everett who in an email said, “It seems now that we are serving more fresh vegetables on the serving lines, the kids aren’t as skeptical to try them. It’s great to see that they will have fresh broccoli, cauliflower, fresh roasted carrots and sweet potatoes rather than pass altogether on a vegetable.”
The homemade lunches cost the same as all other lunches at only $3.00 for each meal. Due to lack of funds however, these healthy lunch options are only weekly for now.
With the price of trays, utensils and labor, the lunches end up costing the department roughly $1.20 even before adding the food and milk. When only charging students $3.00 for a lunch, there is not enough profit made to support the prices that daily homemade lunches would cost, said Ms. Everett.
“You have to realize the more ‘fresh’ ingredients we buy, the more expensive the meal becomes. So I thought why not have a trial basis,” Everett said.
Other ideas created by Everett have been the breakfast cart in the morning, which was a flop and the text to order lunches that Everett said, “have been working really well.”
It has yet to be determined whether homemade lunches will be a long-term success or not. However, Everett said in an email, “Trying this went better than I thought.”
As for student feedback, when asked if they had heard about the homemade lunches, just one out of ten interviewee’s even knew what they were. Only after having been provided with a description of the homemade lunches were the interviewee’s able to give an opinion.
Holliston freshman, Mitchell Coburn, who buys lunch once or twice a week and has not heard of the lunches, questioned their healthiness saying, “it seems if you make it yourself it wouldn’t necessarily be healthier but it seems more appetizing.” Coburn then added that he would want to eat the lunches, “mostly because it tastes better but if its healthier that’s good too.”
Bruce Adkins, a 9th grader who does not buy lunch claims that he would start buying the lunches “because it would be good [tasting]” and not for health reasons.
On the other hand, 10th grader Kevin Tomasetti, who buys lunch every day and has heard of the homemade lunches, says that he would buy the homemade lunches, “because they look good” but mainly because, “they’re healthier, I guess.” However, Tomasetti is content with the regular school lunches, adding, “I like the pasta.”
Although not one of the “homemade lunches” served on Tuesdays, pasta – a daily lunch favorite at HHS – is cooked the day of and the sauces are made fresh daily by Everett, as well. Everett’s real pride however is with her chicken noodle soup of which she says, “There’s no salt added. I make it everyday!”
To those hesitant about indulging in pasta, or any school lunch for that matter, Everett makes it clears that her meals won’t be the cause of any weight gain. “You have breakfast 365 days with mommy you have dinner 365 days with mommy. You only have lunch here 180 days of the year.” She added, “I am not making you fat.”
Besides health benefits and variety, Everett said in an email that “[she is] definitely hoping to draw in more students to participate in lunch [with the new homemade meals]…the more that buy, the better it is for the Food Services Department.”
Everett hopes to see more kids buying lunches in the future, especially seniors who leave campus during lunch and DSB.
Perhaps with more profit she would be able to buy a char-broiler, one of the top items on her wish list. Meal ideas from the char broiler included grilled chicken and vegetable sandwiches and subs.
Though the homemade lunches are all prepared and planned by Everett, she doesn’t mind the extra work saying, “I love to do this stuff for the kids.” And in an email added, “but [I’d] love to hear the feedback on how awesome the “Madness” meals are.”