Pizza is the prime lunch choice for many students in Southold Town, according to an unscientific survey of teenage gourmets. But their opinions and habits about lunchtime food choices range far and wide.
A generation that has grown up aware of the dangers of trans fats doesn’t have the appetite for a lot of the greasy foods their parents and grandparents ate.
In addition to pizza, which they consider healthier than deep-fried foods, they generally like tacos, frozen yogurt and paninis.
Few gave chicken nuggets good reviews. And as for the pizza, students think what’s served in their school cafeterias is inferior to what they can buy at La Capricciosa in Greenport, Pagano’s in Southold and Village Pizza in Mattituck.
All three school districts allow some students to leave the campus for lunch. Greenport students in grades nine through 12 are allowed to go out; those in grades seven and eight may do so if they have written permission from a parent.
Southold allows those in grades 10 through 12 to leave campus at lunchtime and Mattituck allow only juniors and seniors with parental permission to leave campus.
Southold seventh-grader Ronan Guyer, 12, wishes that school policy about eating off campus wasn’t so restrictive. The school’s basement cafeteria isn’t very inviting, he said.
Those who have off-campus lunch privileges almost always take advantage of them, often choosing a local pizza parlor.
But some Greenport students go to the 7-Eleven, and Southold junior Kyle Clause, 16, said his routine varies from Pagano’s for pizza, a sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts or a sandwich from Wayside Market. He admits it’s pricier to eat out, averaging about $5 a day for lunch compared with less than $2 for a cafeteria meal. But he likes the freedom, he said.
Mattituck senior Lillian McCullough can’t remember when she last ate in the school cafeteria. She opts for Village Pizza or North Fork Bagel Cafe in Mattituck Plaza.
“It’s a luxury” to go out to lunch, she said.
Younger students who are not allowed off campus at lunch have a choice of bringing food from home or buying cafeteria food.
“If I don’t like it, I’ll just go with pizza,” eighth-grader Marcos Perivolaris said of the school the menu.
“It’s like average,” said Susan Bunchuck, 12, a Greenport seventh-grader, commenting on the food. She brought her lunch. It was the choice of many students who carry sandwiches to school: peanut butter and jelly.
“I think they’re trying,” Jaclyn Imbriano, a Mattituck ninth-grader said about cafeteria food.
“Sometimes it’s burned or not cooked right,” said a Greenport ninth-grader who declined to give her name.
What bugs Marina DeLuca, a Greenport seventh-grader, is that she goes a long time without eating on days when she has an early lunch, at 10:45 a.m., and an after-school activity. That’s a problem Mattituck solves by allowing Booster Club members to sell snacks prior to sports activities, according to school dean Pat Arslanian.
“I find myself getting tired before games,” said Cole Hiney, a 15-year-old Southold sophomore. He plays both soccer and basketball and with an early lunch that happens about 10:30, he’s hungry by day’s end.
The schools serve homemade soups and salads. Blaise Linn, 18, a Southold senior, would like to see a salad bar. And several of his friends said they’d like fresh fruit. In Greenport, a few salads were available Monday, but no students reached for them while a reporter was there.
What would the students like that’s not on the menus? Chinese food, said Ms. Imbriano. Organic food, said Mr. Guyer.
And more choices for vegetarians, said Mary Bertschi, 13, a Southold eighth-grader. She and several friends eat only pizza in the cafeteria because that’s all they can get that fits into a vegetarian diet, she said. Salads often have pieces of bacon in them, she explained.
“They’re trying to be kid-friendly, but nutritionally sound as well,” Ms. Arslanian said about menu choices in the cafeterias.