Opinion: Catering to various student diets in the cafeteria

Westhill should consider making in-school lunch options more accessible to students who face obstacles when assessing the more generic choices offered at the lunch counter.

More than 16 million people in the United States are now either vegan or vegetarian.  This is not just a huge number, but a massive increase from years’ past as well. Westhill should take notice of the increasing number of students who have dietary restrictions and expand their lunch menu to fit how more students eat.  The number of vegans, vegetarians, and those who suffer from food allergies has increased and now the options in the cafeteria are limited for those with dietary restrictions.  

“I want to walk into the cafeteria and see more variety. All I see is beef, nothing is vegetarian so I can’t eat anything,” junior Akhil Uppalari said on trying to find something to eat that doesn’t interfere with his religion.  As a diverse public school, Westhill should cater to many different ethnicities and religions so food that doesn’t contradict religion or culture is accessible.

  “Being vegan is an important part of my identity and a lot of people will avoid it in fear of limited availability. It’s important that students can pursue whatever ideology they want with confidence they will be fed,” junior Rebecca Siegal said.  

Preparation for vegan or vegetarian meals can be a long process, and if your parents work and you are rushing out in the morning it isn’t easy to just grab a lunch that fits your dietary needs.  Kids should know that when they get to school they will have options besides a slice of pizza.  

In addition to the increase of vegans at Westhill, some students suffer from food allergies.  Celiacs Disease has become more common and the autoimmune disease keeps those who have it on a strict gluten-free diet.  Becoming gluten-free has also become a fad as many people choose to be gluten free just for the health benefits.  Other students suffer from nut allergies and intolerance to dairy or soy.

“My gluten allergy was difficult to adjust to at first because I was so used to having snacks and sandwiches for lunch everyday but now I can’t eat those things.  My parents are clueless about making gluten-free meals for me so I usually end up with a pretty light lunch.  If the cafeteria offered gluten free options, I would actually be able to eat more than an apple and a salad for lunch.” Junior Neha Mathew said.

With only a few options to choose from those who have dietary restrictions aren’t likely to find something they can eat. If Westhill expanded their menu and had options that could tend to the needs of those with food allergies, religious constrictions and vegans then more students would be assured that when they got to lunch there would be choices for them.  

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