Cafeteria food truth

By Daniel Brusilovsky

Raché Carter eats a burger and fries in the cafeteria onMarple campus. Photo by Daniel Brusilovsky

“Nearly 100,000 schools/ institutions serve school lunches to 30 million students each day,” according to School Nutrition Association, an organization that specializes in advancing the quality of school meal programs through education and advocacy.

According to the same source, the annual cost of lunches is $13.6 billion. At Marple campus, there is one small cafeteria operated by Tara Ruggeri, head of dining services.

The cafeteria food comes from Canteen, a sub-company of Compass USA, established in 1929 in Charlotte, NC.

“We serve 9.4 million meals a day and are in a position to make some real change,” wrote Amy Keister, VP of Consumer Engagement on Compass USA website.

Cafeteria food mostly comes from a third party that produces copious amounts of processed foods. The only problem with having such a large amount of pre-made food is quality control.

Experts say not everything that comes out of the processing plant is guaranteed to always be safe to consume.

Canteen assures high quality food which they stand behind on their website by stating that their chicken and turkey is produced without the aid of human antibiotics. They also promise fresh produce when possible as well as cage free eggs.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The existing Nutrition Standards were put into place in 1995 through a policy initiative and related regulation known as the School Meals Initiative.” This standard forced meal companies that were supplying schools with food to list amounts of calories, trans fats and saturated fats.

According to the same source, the Nutrition Standards also ensure that cafeteria food meets certain standards in the protein, calcium and vitamin areas to help with brain development in children and young adults.

Experts say that the standards put into place helped, but 15 states were reported for illnesses that started from Nov. 5, 2017 to Dec. 12, 2017,” according to National Center for Biotechnology Information.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of Jan. 9, the E. coli outbreak seems to be over. Another issue raising concern among experts is food waste.

Along with providing fresh, healthy food, Compass USA recognizes the issue of food waste and announced their commitment to reduce 25 percent of its food waste by 2020.

According to The National Resource Defense Council, an estimated 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten.

The employees at the Marple campus cafeteria seem focused on the work they do.

Cafeteria 2
Phyllis Gavaghan works at the deli at the Marple campus cafeteria. Photo by Daniel Brusilovsky.

“I’ve been working here for two years now,” said food and deli service worker Phyllis Gavaghan.

The students at the cafeteria had some mixed opinions about the food. “I was eating the food since the beginning of last semester and thought it was garbage,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “I bring my own food now, such as chips and a boiled egg.”

Another review was not about food quality, but about variety. “It would be good to have a larger variety of food instead of having just one main dish,” said communications major Raché Carter.

“[They need to] have more variety than just pizza and chicken.” “Some of the food is good, some is not,” said student Daiki Ito. “I think it’s a little expensive. I recommend the pizza. Good variety of drinks.”

Contact Daniel Brusilovsky with questions at

The salad bar selection at the Marple campus cafeteria. Photo by Daniel Brusilovsky

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