by Luckie Lovette
When I was nine, I scorched myself when flipping French fries: bubbling grease splattered onto my face. LESSON LEARNED: never stand close to hot grease.
I used to cook with my mom, but now the tables are turned and I’m the only person who cooks in my household. My menu is growing as I take this responsibility seriously, cooking for my aunty and brothers: I’ve graduated from old standbys like Mac and cheese on to more gourmet teriyaki chicken, vegetable medleys, baked chicken and meatloaf.
It’s not what you’d expect of a high school senior, who should be focused on homecoming, senior ditch day and prom. Not many MALE students at McClymonds become master chefs; we don’t even have a barbecue club like at Berkeley High and at Bishop O’Dowd. Only 16 percent of high school males know how to cook.
The first time I cooked something was when I was 6 years and dreamed of IHop, so what did I make: big golden fluffy pancake. Not messy, sticky or runny. Unlike other kids, I succeeded the first time around. My future was sealed.
I began paying close attention to what my grandmother would whip up: soul foul, fried chicken, greens, potato salad, hot water cornbread, roast beef, fried fish, and macaroni salad. Grandma Gina inspired me to take risks, get dirty. She would chop celery, onion and bell peppers and throw them into the meat, with me by her side, staring.
What I like most about cooking is company, community. Sitting down at the table, I share (jokes, ideas, and stories) and food with my family and chew over the day. The meal is what binds us together: even the cats get involved, nibbling on leftovers. And they are clever – they smell and hear me cutting onions and gather around, because they know that meat is coming next.
I’m not very talented in working with my hands so this gives me an outlet for that, because I don’t stress when cooking, my main focus is to listen to the sizzle, to inhale the garlic.
I love good food but that’s not why I cook. Cooking is my artistic expression. Even though I cook for the entire time I’m at home, I feel recharged at the end.
For vegetarians: school lunch is just fries and an orange
Standard school lunch: burger and fries, with one-third ounce packages of sauce to eat your food with.
Opinion piece and photos by Anthony Beron
It’s worse than what’s served at McDonald’s. How can fries be soggy and cold? School lunch at McClymonds —hamburgers and French fries “keeps me away from the cafeteria,” said vegetarian Mickey Sola, a sophomore.
The menu consists of cooked meats, occasionally expired milk, and roughly grated fries that taste gritty and old, and overly salted. If you choose to eschew from the “hot foods,” you then typically get a choice of a salad, or one of three types of sandwiches: turkey, tuna, or salami.
For vegetarians, there is nothing to eat during lunch, save a piece of fruit and a paltry amount of greens.
Freshman Eric Coleman collects ketchup for his lunch.
Even omnivore Lucky Lovette, a senior, called school school lunch “distasteful.”
“I’m the first person to get in line for the food; some of it isn’t good at all and other things are okay. I don’t like the combination of chicken and waffles with syrup, which is something they serve sometimes,” continued Lovette.
If students are concerned about the quality of school lunches, so are California voters, according to the most recent Field Poll released Wednesday. The poll found that 59 percent of California voters listed kids’ eating and exercise habits as their top concern — more than drug use or sex.
At McClymonds, most students feel that their lunch is not that healthy.
“Only people who are hella starved would consider eating the school lunch: the pepperoni tastes like it’s straight from a Lunchables kit, and the cheese is as hard as a rock. ‘Roaches and mice seem to flourish in the building,” said freshman Jerrell Alberty.
In the cafeteria’s kitchen stand a commercial oven and fridge, where food is made to be served to students and faculty. New refrigerators were put into service in 2010 for storing cold sandwiches and salads, about three years before a large rodent problem arose on campus, which put its kitchen out of service for several months.
“The vegetarian menu only has salad and fries in it. The salad is just a lot of ranch dressing, cheese and croutons, with a chunk of lettuce. I rarely ever eat lunch either because I’m not hungry or there’s nothing to eat,” said Sola. She then declared with levity, “I really need to start bringing my own lunch!”
Ironically, just a few feet away from the cafeteria behind a fence that is opened a few times a month, lies a vegetable and fruit garden planted two years ago and maintained by Planting Justice, a Bay Area group dedicated to making freshly-grown food more available to local neighborhoods.
Until two years ago, teachers gave food to students to aid their ability to focus in class and to help keep them from leaving campus during school, says Patricia Calloway, a teacher at McClymonds.
No longer (except for snacks distributed by the Peacemakers and occasionally by teachers) is this practiced.
Students say they survive by runs to corner store a block away on 26th Street and Market, where food ranges from fried chicken to canned soda. “I usually go by the store to buy brownies, honey-buns, juice and chips and eat it for breakfast because I’m usually late to the school, and don’t eat breakfast at home,” said freshman Nicole Funes. “Each visit costs me around two to three dollars.”
“Sometimes I buy stuff from the corner store and save it for lunch, because I don’t like the food here and there’s no off-campus lunch allowed,” stated Funes.
“There’s more variety at the fried chicken store, and everything for sale just tastes better,” said senior Quadrey Wesley. “Everyday there are people who go to the store to get lunch and get back to school hecka late, even though it’s against school rules.”
Posted in Children, Commentary, cost, food, gardens, nutrition, School News, Youth
Tagged food, Mack, McClymonds, school cafeteria, school lunch, vegetarians