Tag Archives: students

The state of school lunches at Summit Shasta is #sad

By Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Writer


Marshmallow Mateys (above) is an off-brand version of Lucky Charms. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

Here at Summit Public School: Shasta, most people I know try to avoid the school lunch. Brunch usually consists of some kind of off-brand cereal. More often than not, it is hard to identify what is being served for lunch. If you start asking around about what people think of the school lunches, you won’t exactly get a positive response. I surveyed over 130 kids (close to one-fourth of the school), and the most common words to describe the school lunches ranged from “okay” to “gross” and “bad.” Some students described it as “cardboard”; others used more creative terms.

The school lunches at Shasta are premade in a facility 20 miles away.


Food is pre-packaged and stored in a heater. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

The lunches arrive at Shasta every morning. The food is stored in our small kitchen and is watched over by Catherine Quan. Ms. Quan has no official job title, but she helps prepare and serve the food. She explained to me that the food is kept in an industrial fridge and two heaters. The fresh fruits are kept in bins on shelves near the entrance. However, there is a lack of actual kitchen materials. None of the food has to be cooked; there are no trays or plates to wash, and the room is more like a holding space for the pre-packaged meals.

How Shasta gets food

Shasta’s current food supplier is a San Carlos-based company called Lunchmaster. One look at the Lunchmaster website, and a consumer would see no problems. The LunchMaster site offers glowing photos of food, proclaiming that none of the foods they make is fried. More than 80 percent of the food is local. “We make fruits and vegetables appetizing for children,” one section reads.

Lunchmaster markets itself as a family-owned business. According to its website, its two “taste-testers”  are the general manager’s kids. The two founders are a wife / husband duo. Lunchmaster also employs two registered dietitians. All meals meet federal and state regulations and are “balanced meals” made “from scratch.” The company touts itself as healthy, tasty and down-to-earth.

In contrast, the student sentiment at Shasta tells a different story. 75 percent of students polled said that they weren’t satisfied with the current school lunches, the ones provided by Lunchmaster. Only 28 percent said they considered the school lunch to be healthy. Many described it as “processed” and “greasy,” even though the Lunchmaster website states that none of their food is fried (“Even our french fries are oven-baked!”).


Shasta gets monthly menus from Lunchmaster. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

I interviewed Maria Canjura, the office manager at Shasta. She said that Summit Public Schools’ corporate branch makes the decisions on what supplier Shasta has. Summit has a contract with Lunchmaster and gets monthly menus from which they pick out the meals. All Summit schools in the Bay Area are supplied by Lunchmaster.

She thinks that the meals are healthy and that Lunchmaster tries to include healthy meals. As for why the kids don’t like eating the food, Ms. Canjura said: “You would have to ask the kids […] I would love to know why.”

What do kids think?

Well, according to the kids, the food just tastes bad. Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui buys school lunch every day and describes the meals sarcastically as “flavortown.” He said that he would like better quality food and bigger portions.

Another Shasta sophomore, Ethan Tran, said he doesn’t mind the portions, but he does want better quality. He would also like “less plastic packaging.” “They could be worse, but they could be a lot better,” Shasta sophomore Joseph Hernandez said. I asked students to rate the food out of 5, and 91.8 percent of those surveyed rated the food a 3 or less. Only three people (2.5 percent) gave the food a 5.


Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui sarcastically refers to the food as “flavortown.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo


Shasta sophomore Shawn House says that the food is simply “not good.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo












As for what the teachers think, I also interviewed Laura Friday, the freshman English teacher. She said that health is the main problem for her: “The school tries to provide healthy options […] some students don’t accept the healthy foods.”

However, she does agree that “certain meals look better than others,” and she gets the sense that the food isn’t “particularly appetizing.” She thinks that the school is trying their best to make sure that all students get fed while also maintaining a budget. “We have to make compromises,” Ms. Friday said. “This is a national issue.”

Improving lunch by looking across the globe

School lunches are a national issue. Almost every other developed and wealthy country has better school lunches than America. In fact, only Canada, a country that seemingly passes the United States in every way, has worse school lunches. They ranked 37th out 41 in a UNICEF Report on access to nutritious food for kids, right below–that’s right–the good ol’ US of A.

In order to improve, we can look to international cases of great school lunches. France takes their school lunches especially seriously. At one high school, 850 students are fed every day for only $2.50 per meal. The chef that runs the kitchen feeds the students escargot and roast beef. A student described the food as “better than what I get at home.”

Another example we can look to is Japan. Only 5 percent of food is wasted in a school district in Northern Tokyo. Japan’s childhood obesity rate is one of the world’s lowest. So how does Japan do this? According to a Washington Post article, food is never frozen and its school lunches are “a source of national pride.” In Japan, meals are made from scratch.

Image result for japanese school lunch

This is an example of a typical Japanese school lunch. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

School lunches in Japan usually consist of rice, vegetables, fish, or soups, quite unlike here in America, where us Shasta students have to deal with mysterious meat or cardboard. Plus, while there still is unhealthy food being served, it is in seriously limited amounts. “On a recent day at Umejima,” the article reads, “kids were served the Japanese version of fried chicken, known as karaage. Each child was allowed one nugget.” Japan’s government provides some minimal guidelines, but the task of regulating health mainly falls to the school nutritionist. That’s right–most schools in Japan have nutritionists. As for cost, it is all managed by local municipalities, while parents pay for ingredients. The cost for parents is $3 per meal, and they even have lesser payment choices for struggling families. So school lunches can be tasty, healthy and affordable.

Of course, we don’t live in Japan or France, we live in America. But contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of schools in the United States that provide healthy and tasty school lunches. Unfortunately, here at Shasta, kids still try to avoid the school lunch. Students eat better food at home, not at school. Kids at Shasta have inside jokes about how bad the food is. Suffice to say, the majority of the student body here at Shasta does not take “national pride” in our school lunches. But we can always change things.

The students surveyed had plenty of ideas on how to change things: letting some clubs cook and sell food, not having premade food, including more choices, getting more substantial meals and picking a better supplier. While there are definitely challenges in trying to implement these changes, something is better than nothing. According to the students, the school lunches are a whole load of nothing.  


President Trump’s travel ban affects Bay Area high school students

By Jon Garvin

Staff Writer

Xenophobia and anti-immigrant rhetoric were themes in Donald Trump’s campaign, and they continue to be topics of discussion as his administration progresses. Early in his term, President Trump and his administration put in place a temporary travel ban. According to the White House, President Trump released a ban on Jan. 27 to block citizens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen in order to combat terrorism. On March 6, according to the New York Times, Trump exempted Iraq from the ban in part due to large protests at airports.

Many high school students in the Bay Area community were affected by the ban, and they have very strong opinions and emotions regarding the ban. The debate continues, as courts have blocked the bans, and they continue to inspire legal debate.

Here’s what members of the Bay Area community said when asked how the ban has affected them:


Anna Becker, a junior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, shares her personal experience with refugees.


Left: Dina Bakour, a freshman at Carlmont High School, said, “Trump’s travel ban has affected me because people can’t enter the USA because of where they are from and their skin color. This makes me sad that not everyone in the world is equal.”

Right: Nicolette Bolich, a freshman at Notre Dame High School, said, “The travel ban has affected me because it makes me feel bad for the families who want to come to the U.S. to live a better life.”


Left: Bridget Britton, a freshman at Notre Dame, said, “The travel ban has affected me because it is racist and mean that he isn’t helping refugees, and he is being harsher on citizens from countries like Iran and Syria.”

Right: Dangelo Diaz, a freshman at Sequoia High School, said, “It hasn’t really affected me besides knowing that there will be less chance of terrorism in the U.S.”


Left: Angela Padilla, a senior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, said, “It promotes a culture of intolerance against Islamic communities. As a person of color, that’s not something I support or want to see in our society.”

Right: Max Kolotinsky, a freshman at Kehillah Jewish High School, said, “It’s affected me by making me sad about how bad we can’t trust each other because of race and religion.”


Left: Jayden Hanan, a sophomore at Carlmont, said, “The travel ban has affected me because I think more people use this as an opportunity to be racist towards each other, which is wrong.”

Middle: Danielle Ellman, a freshman at St. Ignatius College Prep, said,  “The travel ban has affected me because I don’t agree with it, and it has opened my eyes to things I’m not aware of, like the inequality and unfair treatment of other countries.”

Right: Dara Cardona, a freshman at Summit Prep, said, “The travel ban has affected me because I know people who have come to the U.S. to live a better life, and I don’t think it’s fair for these countries to be restricted and not get a better life.”

Rainier visibly supports diversity

By Yelitzi Ortega

Staff Writer

Students and faculty at Summit Public School: Rainier often visibly show their support for the creation of a diverse school community. Specifically, many students and faculty display pride in the diversity of the school and especially show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Students also display their pride for diversity by having flags and joining clubs such as the Multicultural Club. Examples of pride can be seen all over campus. Things like posters, flags and even buttons are seen every day, as shown in the slideshow below.

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All of this visible support for diversity helps create a safe space for all members of the Summit Rainier community. Here’s a spotlight on some of the staff members who help create a safer space for diversity:


Rainier Spanish Teacher Angel Barragan

Mr. Barragan is one of the most influential people at Rainier when it comes to diversity. His classroom has many flags from different places, and he often speaks about opportunities students have to go to programs like the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Program.


Rainier Assistant Director, Edwin Avarca

Mr. Avarca is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and he has a very big impact at the Summit Rainier because of the way he speaks about and supports all of the diversity in school.


Rainier Office Manager Lupe Trujillo

Ms. Trujillo is often seen showing her pride for diversity by having stickers on her laptop. She also has very strong opinions when it comes to the school’s community, and she isn’t afraid to speak out. Ms. Trujillo does everything in her power to ensure the safety of every student in this school, whether it has to do with bullying or maybe even smaller things.