by Elizabeth Casolo
Let’s be honest: high school cafeterias don’t have the best reputation, but the Cardinal Cafe is changing that. Like, seriously changing that. Over the past few months, as Vice President of the Class of 2021, I’ve been collaborating with Ms. Jayne-Marie Lockett, Greenwich High School’s Food Service Manager. There has been an influx of students advocating for new items to be added to the Cardinal Cafe’s signature menu. One of those students is Allison Sobieri, a sophomore who is passionate about the accessibility of healthy meals. “My family had ideas that were inspired from health restaurants such as Green and Tonic, that seemed simple, and [were] already a part of our regular diets,” Sobieri commented. Whether you have a concern about the cafeteria or the school climate, Sobieri suggests, “talk to the school representatives because they really do make a change. Your peers are trying to make GHS a better place, and they can’t do that without our voices.” I recently re-connected with Ms. Lockett to hear an update. “The mini-muffins are what we started out with… they are made fresh in the morning,” Ms. Lockett explained. These bite-sized baked goods encourage sharing among peers while still enjoying the authentic GHS muffin experience (eating your first GHS muffin can be considered a milestone). “The first day we sold out. Now we are doing 45 [packs of three] a day.” Allison Millspaughーanother sophomoreーsaid, “they [the mini-muffins] are better when you want to transport them because if you want to have half, you can have the rest later.” The next meal that Ms. Lockett launched were acaí bowls. “Students would come up and ask me, ‘[Do] you have Sobols here?’” Like the mini-muffins, they are prepared fresh each morning by the cafeteria staff. There is one smoothie base and a variety of toppings to customize the bowl, and we recently discussed including Nutella as a possibility. “I was so surprised that they had acaí bowls here!” Sophia Priataka, an additional GHS student, mentioned. Other newly introduced dishes include the garden burger (a non-GMO, gluten-free, and dairy-free alternative), loaded baked potatoes, vegetable cups served with hummus or peanut butter, vegan options for pasta, and collard green wraps. Cardinal Fresh salads (including a kale caesar) will be available at the pizza and pasta/salad stations, and quinoa with locally-grown vegetables will also be sold at this time. The cafeteria employees are also perfecting a “red curry paste for curried hummus… this is something perfect for salads but I also want it for wraps,” Ms. Lockett includes. Although many of these dishes have grown in popularity (the cafeteria reports selling more than forty-five of some of these items each day), it is important to encourage the student body to expand their palette with the new releases. According to Sobieri, “When considering trying new food options, focus on your regular diet, and what you can add or remove to improve it… Be aware that not all healthy foods are gross, and trying new and different foods can help you discover foods that you like, and can contribute to your regular diet!” Of course, new improvements are constantly underway: ”Rice bowls. That is the next thing we are working on,” Ms. Lockett said. She is even striving to find new ways of promoting the green compost bins. Ms. Lockett is always on the look-out for any refreshing ideas, so if you have suggestions or concerns regarding the Cardinal Cafe, contact Jayne-Marie Lockett at firstname.lastname@example.org.