Behind the bar: Cafeteria food at WHS

Food Director Judd speaks of the process, selection and leftovers


Credit: Ellie Tyska

The WHS cafeteria has many different sections with a variety of food options. To avoid waste, the cafeteria staff keeps track of all the lunch that is made and sold. “You’ll see at all of our stations we keep track of everything that’s prepared, everything that’s sold and everything that’s leftover,” Food Director Cheryl Judd said.

Ellie Tyska

The cafeteria staff at WHS offers students a variety of options for what to eat for lunch. To acquire all of these different varieties, Food Director Cheryl Judd works hard to connect with many vendors in order to give the students their favored choices for lunch.

“I participate each year in a bid process,” Judd said. “It’s through the education collaborative and a lot of districts in the area participate. What we do is we provide estimate quantities in one year for the upcoming school year, and different companies bid in order to be the vendor for that particular school or school year.”

The Commons has many different sections for lunch. Options include the deli bar, hot lunch, salad bar and the “Snack Shack.” Most of these sections offer the same foods every day with the exception of hot lunch, which always offers a changing selection.

“On Thursdays, [the cafeteria serves] pizza, which is really nice,” sophomore Taylor Travis said. “Then there’s a sandwich bar where you can choose what to put in a wrap. There’s also the snack bar if you want to get just a quick little snack.”

The lunch program has two grocery vendors who provide them with their groceries. One is called Costa Fruit and Produce, and the other is Thirst and Foods. Each of these vendors supplies a specific food for the cafeteria.

“We have a vendor for our milk, we have a vendor for the paper products that we receive, for the snack items and everything that comes into the school lunch program is purchased through whatever companies get the bid for that particular year,” Judd said. “The reason we do that is to get more buying power to lower the prices for the products that we’re bringing in.”

For many students, the sandwich bar is one of the favored sections for lunch. With its build-your-own-sandwich style, the students enjoy making their own decisions for what they’re eating.

“[The food from the cafeteria] is fine,” junior Jenna Ferrick said. “I like the sandwiches, which are from the deli, but I don’t really ever get anything else.”

Although many students buy lunch, there are always sure to be leftovers. To minimize the amount of waste from leftover lunches, the cafeteria staff tries to find alternate uses for them.

“Things like the chicken patties or the spicy chicken, if that was not used, we can go through a cooling process and use those maybe in a salad plate the next day,” Judd said. “We wouldn’t reheat it and serve it to anybody as far as using it as another hot chicken sandwich on that day, but we would try to find another use for it. Maybe [we’d] hold onto it, and then on either Thursday or one of the other days, [we’d] use it as a topping for the pizza.”

To prevent as many leftovers as possible, they also cook to the order and in between lunches. To help with this process, the staff takes production records of the food they’re making.

“We have production records each day, so you’ll see at all of our stations we keep track of everything that’s prepared, everything that’s sold and everything that’s leftover,” Judd said. “What that does is it helps us for future menus so that we won’t overproduce.”

With the multitude of different choices available, most students find it easy to find something to their own liking. Travis enjoys and appreciates the lunch food available at WHS.

“I do [enjoy the food] because there’s a wide variety, and there’s always something if you want it,” Travis said. “It changes every day, so you never know what you’re going to get.”