School Lunches Reviewed


A perfectly perfect chicken sandwich (taken with a different side on February 9).

Laura Vance

A wise man once said, “In many ways, the life of a critic is easy.” I have little choice but to agree; my life as a respectable critic has undoubtedly been one of ease thus far. I see things and I write about them, which people read and then promptly forget about two seconds later. It’s a good system we have, and I’m in no hurry to give it up. So, I thought I would sit atop my peak of judgment a bit longer and critique something we unitedly wish to hear my opinion about: school lunches. 

I suffer for my art. For the past two weeks, I faithfully partook of the school-provided meals in a crusade to find “the best school lunch” offered here at Huntingtown. From the crumbly chicken nuggets to the semisolid macaroni and cheese, I knew there must be some consensus out there regarding the best dish. (Huntingtown’s “Contemporary American Poultry,” if you will.) So, without any further ado, here is a selection of meals from the past two weeks of school lunches ranked, reviewed, and even revered.  


A formidable scoop of macaroni and cheese topped with a bit of pepper to heighten the illusion of having more taste.

#5: Thursday, February 3, 2022; Macaroni and Cheese (4/10) & Green Beans (2/10) 

Average Score: 3.0/10 

“The name ‘macaroni and cheese’ implies that there are two ingredients,” says Zane Jacquot, macaroni and cheese expert. “The school chose to honor this line of thinking by only including ‘mac’ and ‘cheese.’” 

Yes, in all physicality, there was both macaroni and cheese on my tray, but my subconscious (whose main role is to keep me alive) was confirming that I was eating something akin to paste. Now, I’ve never eaten paste before, but I can only pray that doing so is more enjoyable than consuming a “cheese” that effectively cakes the roof of my mouth like a layer of cement. It was completely flavorless, thick without substance, and rich while being utterly unsubstantial. The green beans did not compliment this meal and were somehow worse than the entrée. I now understand why babies are constantly inclined to cry; if baby food is at all similar to the mushy legumes I tasted, I think I would also be in a perpetual fit of despair.  


The conflicting calzone and pudding-esque potato fries atop a cardboard tray.

#4: Monday, January 31, 2022: Calzone (7/10) with Sweet Potato Fries (2/10) 

Average score: 4.5/10 

It only goes up from here. Consuming a school calzone was a conflicting and multifaceted affair. There was cheese in abundant excess hidden beneath a crust that exuded the illusion of something that was once meant to be crispy, but in all reality, came across as depressingly soggy. The cheese within defied all bounds of reality, striking an interesting medium between the physics of solid and liquid states of matter. With that said, I enjoyed the entrée. Truly. But I shall not delve too deeply into the sweet potato fries, or else I’m afraid that I will never stop writing. Served during the B lunch rush, they were fairly cold, flavorless, and mushy; a side that is impossible to positively complement any sort of entrée with. If you have ever wondered what it is like eating a tart, potato-flavored pudding, you missed your chance to partake of some by way of the school’s sweet potato fries. However, it was amply made up with a 2022 TruMoo chocolate milk, the sweet bouquet drowning out the insufferable tang of an overly sweet potato fry. 


A captured moment in the eternal lunch line. As someone who does not regularly partake of school lunches, perhaps the most jarring moments of the entire experience were spent as I waited nearly 15 minutes in a lunch line every day for my food.

#3: Tuesday, February 1, 2022: Pizza Crunchers (8/10) with Beans (3/10) 

Average score: 5.5/10 

Today, I believe I was served four fragments of heaven on a tiny cardboard tray. Tuesday’s pizza crunchers did not disappoint in the slightest, containing a shell with a delightful, crispy crunch that protected a cheesy treasure within. The tomato sauce further took on a stronger presence than in previous instances, enforcing a deliriously fantastic blend of several flavors that collaborated in making an explosive masterpiece of portable, crunchy pizzas. The side of beans, however, can be summarized with the following phrase, which I uttered several times after braving a spoonful: “They’re not as bad as I thought they would be.” I’m not necessarily a “bean girl,” so my opinion possibly differs with those who do, in fact, spend their free time eating (and enjoying) beans. With that said, they were rather unremarkable, and I regret to say that I felt as though I was eating the color beige. Once more, the sides were lacking and further reduced the luster of the overall meal, but tried as they might, no beans could truly dampen the excellence of a good pizza cruncher. 


#2: Friday, February 4, 2022: Chicken Sandwich (7/10) with Corn (7/10) 

Average score: 7/10 

It was bathed in simplicity but shone with divinity. There is nothing remarkable about a slice of chicken slapped between two pieces of a whole wheat bun, but the outcome was more than pleasant. There isn’t much to say on the matter — it was completely satisfactory, filling, and tasted pretty good. It didn’t expand the horizons of culinary genius by any means, but paired with a simple side of corn, it was my Friday’s little manna from heaven.  



#1: Wednesday, February 2, 2022 & Tuesday, February 8, 2022: Spicy Chicken Sandwich (9/10) with Corn (7/10) 

Average: 8/10 

The glorified spicy chicken sandwich amidst the tolerable corn with a TruMoo chocolate milk lurking in the near distance.

It was a spicy chicken sandwich, and it tasted like a spicy chicken sandwich. A good spicy chicken sandwich. A fantastic spicy chicken sandwich. Bathed in condiments like ketchup and mayonnaise, it certainly provided an added spice to my Wednesday. The sharp seasoning danced excitedly about my palette, only daring to subside once I washed it down with the delicate ambrosia of a 2022 TruMoo chocolate milk. Call me easily pleased, but I find the school’s chicken to be perfectly fine, even enjoyable. Luckily, the spicy chicken sandwich was not an exception. I found this combo to be among the best yet, but that may be due to my higher tolerance for corn: it was utterly tolerable. It was tame, noncommittal, and a nice change of pace from previous sides. I’m finding that these sides have the potential to either make or break a meal, and the calm delicacies of corn certainly made this dish go the distance.  


It is in the nature of humans to crucify that which is easy to crucify. Since the dawn of time, that helpless victim has consistently been the subject of school lunches, ever the butt of a never-ending joke. Today, as I write this with a simple chicken sandwich in hand, it is dawning on me that the aforementioned wise man had more to say on the matter of the art of cynical criticism: “There are times when a critic truly risks something,” he wrote, “and that is the discovery and defense of the new.” 

Today, I discovered something new, not only about the nature of school lunches, but about something deep inside of me. Something divine and raw and human: I discovered that I like school lunches. They may hate me and scoff at me for it, but it is my role as a critic to risk my throne for a shot at making this world a little better. The first step in doing so, I feel, is to eat a simply delicious chicken sandwich.