Cafeteria Criticism

Parkway brings in new lunch provider.


Charlotte Lebbing

Senior Molly Meriwether shows off her french-fry mustache at lunch.

Ever since the pandemic hit, adapting to difficult changes has been part of being a student at South. Last school year students had to make it through the introduction of masks, digital passes, and fluctuating distance learning. This school year was supposed to be smooth-sailing, but there was one last curveball and it came from a place students were least expecting–the cafeteria. 

Starting this school year, the Parkway School District joined the Clayton, Pattonville, Kirkwood, Lindbergh, Ladue, Bayless, and Afton school districts in working with a new food provider, Chartwells. 

“Prior to this year, Parkway was considered a ‘self-op’ program, which simply means everything was kept within the district. Parkway partnered with Chartwells to enhance an already great program with great people. Having the backing of Chartwells and Compass Group, the largest foodservice provider in the world provides Parkway with a lot of support that they didn’t have before. Especially now, during these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to partner with a company like Chartwells,” said Carl Nowicki, Resident District Manager at Chartwells for Parkway.

In addition, breakfast and lunch are free this year, like last year. 

“While I am happy the lunches are free now, though I believe lunches should have been free in the first place, I did not expect the quality to drop as much as it did, though I am not surprised,” said senior Mikaila Zanghi.

Unfortunately, students who feel much less disdain than Zanghi are in the minority.

“The pizza really went down in quality I think, but the sandwiches went way up. I think it’s neutral. There’s pros and cons to both,” said Paige Holtmann, sophomore.

Her opinion on the pizza is also not shared by all students, however, gone are the days when students could get pizza provided by Domino’s.

¨The pizza isn’t bad, however some days it’s clear that the food is lackluster,¨ said Jacob Wofford, senior.

The complaints from most students are about general quality, but according to Jenn Sebold, Assistant Principal, Chartwells’ higher standards for quality and freshness caused a challenging takeoff for the cafeteria staff.

“They had to make it right as the kids were coming in, which is great for quality, but as far as getting that many people through a line in a short amount of time, it caused some backups and stuff, so they had to work through that as a kitchen to figure out how they were gonna maintain that standard of quality of the food but then also be able to service everybody within a short period of time,” said Sebold. 

Apparently, they did figure it out because some students like Wofford noticed an improvement.

“I like that there are a variety of healthy options. In addition, they’ve added more options for lunch while also keeping some things constant,” he said. 

However, some people still maintain their disdain.

“It’s still awful. It’s gotten a little better, but not a lot better,” Sarina Rizzo, senior.