HOUGHTON - Inside the Houghton Middle and High School lunchroom, it's a lot of the classics: bag lunches, apples, little milk cartons, and that's always been the situation. This year, though, there is much more to be offered from the lunch staff, as they've beefed up the available options to include an array of healthy foods and more wholesome main dishes.
"Our lunchroom has come a long way," said Shelby Turnquist, who's been working in the lunchroom for 15 years. "When I started here, we did maybe $300 in fresh fruits and vegetables a week; now I order anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 a week."
That has jumped the available options this year from one table of fruits and vegetables to three tables full of healthy options including more than just apples and salads; there are fresh green and red peppers as well as kiwis.
Dusty Gagnon gets a juice after grabbing an apple at the Gremlin Café inside of the Houghton High and Middle School lunch room. The school lets students take as many fresh fruits and vegetables as they would like as a portion of a more healthy option for students who get lunch at school. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Michael H. Babcock)
"The more you offer the kids, the more they'll pick it up," said Turnquist, adding that kids can take as many fresh fruits and vegetables as they would like.
"My only stipulation is if I see you eating an apple and throw it out, I'm going to be crabby," she said. "We don't care, as long as they're eating it."
When Turnquist looks back at the situation, she said it's comical what it was like.
"Lunches were everything out of a can," she said. "When I walked into the back storage room it was all cherry pie filling, blueberry pie filling, 30 to 40 cases of it, and I was told that's what they did for fruit."
It was Turnquist's first experience with hot lunch. A Chassell alumna, she graduated before lunch was an option in that district. She was shocked.
"Nothing was cooked from scratch before," she said. "We still have some that isn't,, but that's only because of what the government supplies."
The district offers a vegetarian option every day, and in the Gremlin Cafe, the healthy options are creeping their way to taking over.