Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's For Lunch?

I don't know about you, but whenever the holidays tiptoe closer, I can't help but think about one thing. Now, I know what you're thinking--presents, twinkling lights, that overpowering aroma of fake pine trees wafting through the mall. Um, no. I'm talking about FOOD. Good old ham and/or turkey with plenty of sides and desserts to bring on a carb coma the size of Texas. Oh yeah.

So I guess you could say that for this Undercover Wednesday, my appetite pretty much led me to scope out a place we all know and love:

The School Cafeteria. 

You remember this place, yes? It's a setting that finds its way into many a YA stories, despite the warnings from our teen spies. BUT if the cafeteria is unavoidable in your book, then perhaps some uncovered intell from our Teen Spies and Teen Analysts will help you make this setting a little more...appetizing to your readers.

***Special thanks to Erica, Gracie, Rebecca, and Lynsay for dishing it out in today's Q&A!!!***

What are the staple foods always available in your cafeteria?

ERICA: Fries, burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and pizza available every day. After that there were 2 lunch stations that varied depending on the day.
GRACIE: Fries, water, cookies (just a note that my school caf is super awesome because there's an awesome culinary arts program at my school)

REBECCA:  Sausage Rolls, Pies, Sandwiches and rolls

LYNSAY:  Pizza, Spaghetti, Baked Chicken, Nuggets, and Nachos
What are the meals you look forward to most?
ERICA: The food at my high school was not great so I would pack a lunch, so I didn't really look forward to a meal.

GRACIE: I usually bring a lunch (or eat at home if I have a spare that day). But honestly there is some really good specials - like chicken & Caesar salad, and this fancy taco dish thing. There's lots of variety. :)

REBECCA: My school made a mean hamburger and cheeseburger, would you believe that's probably the only thing I actually miss about school now that I do home-schooling -- true.  
LYNSAY: I don't eat in the cafeteria because it's insanely processed, but back in the day I liked the pizza.
 What is the worst meal?

ERICA: I thought the pizza was pretty awful. They tried to make it healthier and it was really gross - plus the cheese was never all the way melted.

LYNSAY: I think it really depends on the day. Sometimes things look different on different days.

Do a lot of people bring their own lunches and/or skip and leave school property to eat elsewhere? 

ERICA: Yes to both.  A good portion skip and go eat elsewhere, and also bring their own lunch. 

GRACIE: There's a lot of people who buy food from the caf (especially when the special is good) but there is a lot of people who go wherever for lunch. There's a few fast food places by my school, like Subway and McDonalds so people go there. Students with cars probably go farther. I'm sure a lot of people if they live close go home for lunch. 

REBECCA: We're not allowed to leave the premise, we have to eat on the school grounds. And alot, of people don’t bring lunch they go to the canteen. Seriously, I remember the line being crazy mad! 

LYNSAY: Yes. All my friends and I bring our lunch. We are lucky enough to have a microwave so we bring leftovers and frozen meals a lot.   

If people do bring their lunches in, what do they bring them in?

ERICA: I would always bring my lunch just in a brown paper bag.

GRACIE: If people stay and don't buy though, usually lunches are brought in plastic/paper bags, or just stuffed in backpacks and purses. You do see a lot of insulated lunch bags though, there are some very stylish lunch kits around. :)

REBECCA: They bring their lunch in lunch boxes but just take their food out as it's like socially unacceptable to lug around a lunch box.

LYNSAY: We all have lunch boxes that are cute.

What time do you eat lunch at school?

ERICA: My school has lunch from 10:40-1:50 in 4 lunch periods

GRACIE: Lunch hour starts at 12:03

REBECCA: About 12:30ish

LYNSAY: 10:30...ugh

How long is your lunch period?

ERICA: 30 minutes each with a 4 minute passing time before and after

GRACIE: My lunch period is 1 hour and everyone at my school has lunch at the same time

REBECCA: 40 minutes
LYNSAY: Lunch is around 25 minutes

Are teachers like undercover spies, lurking against the wall just waiting to bust someone for something? Or are they practically invisible during lunch period? 

ERICA: It depends on the teacher, but I'd say somewhere in between. My teachers would usually sita at a table and eat their lunch, but they would be ready to bust someone if a fight broke out or something. 

GRACIE: Teachers are in their classrooms at lunch time -- although a lot of them open their classes for extra help during the lunch hour. You'll find lots of students in classrooms getting extra help at lunch hour. In the cafeteria, though, there are no teachers (unless they're buying lunch). The caf supervisors are separate people than teachers, and they're kind of just there and don't lurk at all.

REBECCA: Teachers hang around the place lurking like spies and take pleasure in telling students off.

LYNSAY: Teachers = invisible. Assistant Principals = Very spy like.

How often do you skip lunch?

ERICA: I did from time to time.

GRACIE: Very often! Lunchtime is the busiest time of the day for the school. There's actually some classes that go on at lunch (like choir and some band classes and some others). Lunch is THE time for extra help, making up tests, and clubs like Student Council and our social justice group (and tons more).

LYNSAY: I'm always running around during lunch. It's a journalism thing. 

Does it seem like your lunch seating arrangements have a line drawn between: grade levels, cool kids vs. not-so cool kids, cliched groups, or is it a free-for-all and people sit anywhere they want?

ERICA: For the most part I would say [cliched groups], but there is my group of friends who don't really fit a cliche and are just friends with everyone and have a very mixed group.

GRACIE: Because my school's so big, not everyone can eat in the people eat anywhere throughout the school. There's benches in the corners where windows are that people tend to gravitate towards for lunch hangouts. Other people just sit on the floor near lockers and eat lunch. But as far as who people sit with...basically just with their group of friends. Generally the group of friends are all in the same grade, but people from different grades definitely do hang out with each other. I don't really see cliques at my school, just groups of friends.

REBECCA: We aren't allowed to mix with other grades. And it's kinda prohibited to sit wherever, I mean this is high school, you can't just sit anywhere unless you wanna get evil-eyed and glared down.

LYNSAY: The only division I really see is "cool" vs. "uncool" grade or anything else doesn't really apply.

How much does the standard lunch cost?

ERICA: $2.15

GRACIE: The special of the day is $5, and everything else I think is pretty much in that range


LYNSAY: $1.25

Do you know any names of your lunch ladies/men? If so, what are they?

Sadly, none of our teens who answered this question knew the names of their cafeteria staff. Lunch ladies need love, too, people! :)

So that does it! A lot of really good intell here for those of us who need to flavor our cafeteria scenes with more authentic details. And again, THANK YOU to Erica, Gracie, Lynsay, and Rebecca (who I found out is currently home schooled but attended public school last year and who's ALSO from Australia where they call their cafeteria a 'canteen')! You ladies provided such awesome, in-depth answers. Gourmet cheeseburgers and/or veggie burgers for you all!

Agent Cutta Mutha OUT.



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