Inside the CHS Cafeteria


Demetrios Dresios

Freshman Luca Artiglio receives lunch from the cafeteria window.

Demetrios Dresios, Reporter

Buying lunch is a common routine among high schoolers; the trailing lines, tapping out their ID number, and receiving their food from the windows. But few people stop to consider what goes on behind the service window, and what work goes on behind the scenes.

Sue Bjorndal, who is responsible for the operation of the school’s food distribution system, details the mindset behind the workers who run the cafeteria.

“We operate just like any restaurant,” Bjorndal said. “We have certain safety standards and food safety standards that we have to follow as we’re inspected by the state health department. Just like any other restaurant.”

The school’s cafeteria also places an important emphasis on providing proper nutrition to the students, ensuring every meal is healthy.

“When it comes to serving we have everybody take something from the bowl, we always have a side fruit or vegetable,” Bjorndal said. “Fruits or vegetables are required to go with the breakfast and also with the lunch. Everything that we have is nutritious and follows strict guidelines for calories, for fat, for whole wheat products.”

This attention to detail that the cafeteria staff gives to their food is felt by students. Freshman Ravi Bhat weighs in with his experience regarding the school lunch.

“I’m not someone who gets school food everyday, but when I do have it, it seems safe to eat and fairly healthy,” Bhat said. “I’ve had no problems getting food when I want, although if you are super hungry it’s a safe bet to get there earlier, the lines are quite long.”

These past years especially have presented challenges for the school cafeteria. From COVID-19 precautions to supply chain difficulties, Bjorndal describes how the cafeteria has overcome these issues.

“We are struggling with supply chain issues, but, we adapt,” Bjorndal said. “If we’re out of something we’ll go with something else or sometimes our supplier ships a substitution and so we have to just go with that. We’ve adapted with what we have available and provide the meals for all the students. We also have tremendous safety precautions because of COVID. Everything that we serve now has to be packaged and wrapped. We still have to abide by the state guidelines for food safety.”

Beyond serving the school, the cafeteria has taken steps to help out students and the community as a whole who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Ever since we shut down back in March of 2020, we’ve been able to serve the entire community of Carlsbad with the curbside meals for pickup, as well as having everything free for all the students”, Bjorndal said.

The free food that has been distributed by the cafeteria in recent years has especially had a significant impact on students. Bhat comments on how this action has affected him and his community.

“It’s really good for the families who were hit hard by COVID and it’s great that the school is able to do this,” Bhat said.

Although these past few years have been undoubtedly challenging, workers in the cafeteria have persisted and continue to enjoy their work.

“We just try to do the best we can,” Bjorndal said. “I enjoy my job tremendously. I enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out exactly how many students are gonna come get breakfast and lunch every day. And so I think Carlsbad, we have been doing pretty well.”