Students concerned about food options in cafeteria


Mika Fisher

A cafeteria staff member serves the remaining ground beef to a student during A lunch. The district offers 15 different entrees at high schools, giving students a variety of options to choose from. Rice, chicken, and beans are also being served.

Giusseppe Giusti Williams, Staff Writer

Students have noticed a few changes in the lunch offerings provided Akins cafeteria, including the disappearance of the Asian food line, prompting some to ask questions about the reasons why.

Freshman Kairi Natal said she thinks the cafeteria food at Akins is an upgrade compared to what she had in middle school, but she would like to see more options.

“I think there should be more even though there’s like a lot of different stalls, they usually have all the same thing,” she said.

Lindsey Bradley, a marketing specialist for Austin ISD food service, said that Austin ISD is experiencing the same kinds of supply and staffing shortages that all businesses and organizations are experiencing, prompting some of the changes. She explained that the Asian line was cut because it served the fewest number of meals in high schools across the district.

“During a time when we are experiencing major staffing shortages, we were forced to make changes to our menus,” she wrote in an email response. “While the Asian options may not be available every day, we did add the most popular items from that line to the regular, La Cocina lunch menu rotation.”

Bradley said that despite these minor changes, the district’s food service department is proud to offer more than what other districts do in the surrounding area, including 15 lunch entree choices at high schools every day.

“In addition to the student favorites, global flavors, and salads on the La Cocina line, students also have the choice of building their own tacos, burritos, nachos, and bowls at the Fiesta Line,” she wrote. “The Grill line also offers hamburgers, veggie burgers, chicken burgers, pizza, and chicken tenders or bites every day.”

The food service industry across the country is facing many challenges because of the pandemic. Within AISD, we are experiencing these through food service worker shortages and nationwide supply chain issues.

“We are addressing unexpected shortages and delivery delays of foods and supplies daily,” Bradley wrote. “The combination of these issues does impact our menus and operations across the district.”
Bradley thinks that the biggest challenge that the cafeteria is facing is their paper goods.

“The plates or serving containers may look a little different because we are unable to get what was originally ordered,” she said.

Despite the challenges, the district does expect to provide some new meal options after Spring Break, including chili with cornbread, apple crisp, banana muffin, frittata, and some new sandwiches/wraps.
Bradley said the meal option choices are decided by the district’s dietitian and executive chef. They work to plan balanced menus that also meet the requirements of the National School Lunch Program.