Bento boxes set to replace hot lunch

New lunch format starts this fall


Tyler Eoff

Sophomore Brennan Hogan buys hot lunch Mar. 1. Next year the school will be introducing cold bento boxes for school lunch.

Maya Nieves

With Park beginning to plan school-wide construction — including a cafeteria overhaul — the question of how students will still have a healthy and full lunch next year remains.

Administration said they decided the best way to still have healthy meals for students is to introduce bento boxes — non-reusable boxes that hold cold food in different compartments. Park plans to no longer serve hot lunch next year, with bento boxes being the only available in-school option. 

Sophomore Miles Johnson said that this could be a struggle for students who mainly get their food from school. 

“Some students are not as privileged as others and can’t afford to bring their own lunch,” Johnson said. “Those students will have to eat a cold and less filling lunch every day, when at home they might not be getting nutritious hot foods either.”

Sophomore Adam Rosvold said that he is concerned about the bento boxes not holding enough food to nourish Park’s hard-working students. 

“Everyone’s eating habits are different — some kids will get enough, but others won’t think it’s enough,” Rosvold said. “That will decrease the amount of kids that get lunch from school. Kids who are not getting enough food will struggle because they won’t have enough energy to go the rest of the day at school.”

Interim Assistant Principal Derek Wennerberg said when the middle school cafeteria underwent construction in the fall of 2020, bento boxes were used and there were positive results. 

“The middle school went through a cafeteria remodel a few years ago, and the food service staff did an amazing job,” Wennerberg said. “They did an amazing job at mixing up the offerings to make sure that it wasn’t just going to be a ham and cheese sandwich and a turkey sandwich the next day. (There was) a wide variety and very creative options.”

Rosvold also said that he is interested and excited to see what lunch would look like in the bento box format.

“I’m guessing this will mean we’ll have mostly sandwiches, but I’m interested to see what else will be in the box,” Rosvold said.

Assistant principal Alyssa Gardner said that while the ideal goal was to have a way for students to continue to have hot lunch, due to the cafeteria construction, Park instead opted for the next-best option.

“There wasn’t a reasonable way to ensure students still had hot lunch,” Gardner said. “The bento box was the next-best option to ensure that everybody will still have healthy and full meals while the cafeteria undergoes construction.”

Johnson said bento boxes will allow for shorter lunch lines, meaning more time to eat and socialize. 

“Bento boxes will definitely make lunch faster,” Johnson said. “If we don’t have to wait in line for food to be served, it’ll give us way more time to eat and talk if we can just grab a box of food and sit down.”

Bento boxes will be Park’s primary lunch option starting fall 2023, and are planned to continue through the 2023–2024 school year until renovations are complete.