Food Policy Health Plant-Based Sustainability

Plant-Based Chicken Nuggets Are Coming To School Cafeterias Nationwide

When kids across the United States walk into their school cafeterias to start the 2019-2020 school year, many may find plant-based chicken nuggets as a brand new meal option.

Photo courtesy of Don Lee Farms

Don Lee Farms, one of the top three suppliers of protein for school lunch programs, is adding the vegan chicken substitute to its offerings. They serve most major and many small school districts in the United States, with the total they supply numbering in the thousands. Their decision to start incorporating plant-based nuggets came as both an option for sustainability and cost. “In most cases, our price for these items are at or below what chicken nuggets cost schools today,” president Donald Goodman said in a statement.

These nuggets are apparently comparable in taste and texture to real chicken nuggets, and give schools a plant-based option kids already love that is more environmentally friendly and even cheaper than meat. Given how important it is for vegan replicas to become cheaper than the real thing, the fact that a processed meat like chicken nuggets has a cheaper plant-based substitute now is monumental.

Schools will be able to purchase the plant-based nuggets to add to their cafeteria menus starting this summer.

Features Sweets

This Self-Taught Chef Bakes Up Some of L.A.’s Most Jaw-Dropping Cakes

Baking is probably one of the most difficult methods of cooking to get right in the world of food. One has to nail the precise measurements, technique, and temperature in order to get everything perfect.

Self-taught baker Mae-Lan Mejia of Clifton’s Republic is known for her extremely intricate and visually stunning cakes and baked goods. The historic restaurant and multilevel event space features many of Mejia’s designs on the cafeteria floor, front and center for all to see her baking wizardry.

At the entrance of Clifton’s cafeteria are dozens of whimsical cakes, created by Mejia and her crew. This visual spread includes a massive great white shark, and equally realistic sea turtles, penguins, polar bears, and dinosaur cakes.

Upon observing the marvelous details of her designs, one would think Mejia underwent years of professional training to reach the level of cake design she’s at today. But the fact that she’s fully self-taught adds more appeal to her skill.

In fact, before coming to work at Clifton’s, Mejia was a stay-at-home mom with no background in food. Rather, she had a retail, fashion, and art design background with experience in Western horse training. A far cry from baking and cake design.

Her career in baking actually began when her twin daughters asked her to make a cake for their birthday. With the cake being a surprise hit at the event, Mejia’s talents spread through word-of-mouth among her friends and family, leading to hundreds of cake requests from the self-taught mother.

Chef Mejia says her favorite orders are the most difficult ones, cakes that take anywhere from 20-60 hours to complete. As with anyone passionate about their craft, she enjoys the challenge.

Take note aspiring bakers. You don’t have to blow thousands of bucks going to culinary school to achieve this level of talent. All it takes is hard work, dedication, an eye for the outstanding, patience, and tons of flour.


Inmates Allow OJ Simpson To Cut The Lunch Line, Because He’s OJ Simpson

Some celebrity inmates, such as Jared Fogle, absolutely have the worst time in prison, getting jumped and abused for his child-touching ways. Then there’s OJ Simpson, who has always had a presence about him, and is apparently running the Nevada prison he has been in the last nine years.

The former NFL player is treated like the star he is, to the point where the other inmates let him cut in line at the cafeteria, according to Inside Edition.

Cutting in line, anywhere, can cause a pretty intense altercation, as it naturally draws the ire of people who have been waiting their turn, but it seems the other inmates have no problem letting OJ get his food first, simply because they love the 68-year-old celebrity.

That is the total opposite of Jared Fogle’s lunch time experiences, as it was reported in 2016 that he was beat down by a 60-year-old man in the cafeteria.

As far as what his daily meals usually consist of, Simpson’s sister told Inside Edition that OJ usually eats Honey Nut Cheerios, oatmeal, canned salmon, or tuna, because he’s on a diet, of course.

Aside from Simpson’s lunch time privileges, he’s also coaches the prison’s softball team, runs the gym, and plays a lot of poker with the boys.

How the hell does he get away with all of this, you might ask? Well, as former Nevada prison guard, Jeffrey Felix put it, “He’s the juice. He does his thing.”

Hit-Or-Miss Tastemade/Snapchat

5 Of The Best Company Cafeterias You’ll Ever Eat At

The days of the cubicle farm with its slopfest of a corporate cafeteria are gone! Instead, thanks to younger employees, the work-life balance has taking over U.S offices—talkin’ ping pong tables, nap rooms, Beer Fridays. Hell, come 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials and they want free food and flexibility. Taking notice, companies are turning their cafeterias into touted destinations, not just grab-and-snack stopovers. Here are five workplace eateries that will make your mouth water and your brain melt.

1. Google

fantastic lunch in google NY. free lunch but awesome. #google #lunch #googlecafeteria

A photo posted by @ryan_sungho on

Mountain View, California; New York, New York

Glossing over the fact that the Mountain View Googleplex straight up has an Indian restaurant called Cafe Baadal, complete with a legit full-service wait staff, Google offices are known for cafeterias and their insane dedication to rad. I mean, according to Payscale, the New York Google office cafeteria serves up braised Mangalore salmon in coconut milk, hanger steak with sauce bordelaise, and beet-marinated tofu with chile-scallion glaze.

2. Apple


Photo Credit: Nick Nguyen

Cupertino California 

At Caffè Macs, the well-known and beautifully designed cafe(teria) of Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, it seems to be like that scene from Hook, where you get whatever you imagine. Employees can score breakfast scrambles, quinoa hash, bison cheeseburgers, ramen burgers, tri-tip, or oysters. The menu’s a wild melting pot of tasty ideas. The food’s also relatively cheap, though the apples are free — not kidding.

3. Facebook

Employees go bananas for Halloween at HQ. (Photo: @badmikeyt)

A photo posted by Facebook (@facebook) on

Menlo Park, California; New York, New York

Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters are like a millennial-run Main Street. “Cafeteria” is a super loose term here, given that there are 11 joints handing out grub that’s either free or insanely discounted for employees and guests. Despite a renowned if-you-can-dream-it-you-can-add-it salad bar, it’s largely not light fare—try burgers, nachos, and Asian cuisine—though the big madhouse pride is BBQ. There’s a gigantic outdoor grill and smoker, which has cooked up bacon-wrapped meatloaf, 300 pounds of brisket, and a whole pig. Facebook’s New York office also has a widely celebrated cafeteria where, according to The Huffington Post, the cook will sometimes create an employee-specific dish, like a Philippine pork belly-and-rice dish for a Filipino engineer in mind.

4. Pixar

We’re turning lunch Inside Out #InsidePixar. Here’s a slice of life from Cafe Luxo.

A photo posted by Pixar Animation Studios (@pixar) on

Emeryville, California

Café Luxo, the warm and welcoming cafe of Pixar’s Emeryville headquarters, is run by a celebrated executive chef. You can tell, according to Bon Appétit, given a history of dishes ranging from seared ahi and bok choy to sugar-balsamic pancakes topped with poppy seed crème fraîche. It’s a big open space ripe for collaborative chats over food; fuel the creatives! Plus, there’s always the cereal bar room that everyone on the Pixar campus loves.

5. Hearst

New York, New York

If you’re going to write for the big shots, you have to eat like one, apparently. The entire “first-class dining experience” of Hearst’s cafe57 is so epic and elegant, it sounds made up, from the in-house sushi chefs to the company’s own cattle ranch that supplies the grass-fed beef. Serving 1,200 people a day should make the menu easy and predictable, but it changes week to week, offering delectable dishes like Organic Tofu Asian Chopped Salad and Grilled Sweet Chili Chicken Sandwich with Pineapple Kimchi and Lime Mayo. They also feature guest chefs regularly.


Confessions Of A Real Life Cafeteria Lunch Lady


Cafeterias hold a very special place in my heart, as they do many others who work, study or have spent time in one over the years.

They’re where many kids and adults alike receive human interaction during an otherwise potentially sterile day. And now thanks to this beautiful Q/A session with an anonymous, 21-year-old college cafeteria lady I found on Reddit, I’m now fixated on the beautiful, laughable and cringeworthy things she sees on a daily basis.

Let’s jump right in to the most interesting questions:

“I feel a lot for some of the kids that look so damn lonely”


Q:Do you worry about the kids who are on the free lunch program? Does it really enter into your mind that this might be the only decent meal they get that day, or is it just a matter of just another mouth to feed, don’t much care how/if they paid?

Lunch Lady: I work the main cafeteria at the college, so we really don’t have a free lunch program. Most of the kids I serve are fresh out of high school and on loans or scholarships which include a meal plan. I don’t worry much for them in that they won’t be fed.

I feel a lot for some of the kids that look so damn lonely.

I have a few regulars that come in and stay in my line as long as they can before I have to tell them they have to go eat so that I won’t get into trouble for talking.

I remember when I first started college, the lunch ladies and food service staff were the people I talked to the most since I used to be really shy and obviously in the wrong area of study and unhappy. I try to be as friendly as possible in case I happen to come across a student that’s as lonely as I was. I have to tell myself that they’ll get better and open up eventually as I did. But, for now, I do what I can to let them know that at least one person is listening.

Q: Wait, “trouble for talking”? In a college cafeteria?

Lunch Lady: It happens in almost all workplaces. If you have someone stand near you holding a conversation for a long time, it’s viewed as a distraction and not paying enough attention to your job.


I had a girl tell me I was pathetic to work in a cafeteria.


Q: Do you regularly get rude comments from students just for being a lunch lady?

Lunch Lady: Not as many as I expected to get when I was hired. I mostly get complaints when I have to run to the kitchen to get more food, and about the small portions that I’m required to give.

I’ve had a few really rough ones though. I had a girl come through my line once early last semester and tell me that she thought it was really pathetic that I had to work in a cafeteria for a living to compensate for having to drop out of college.

I happened to be serving fajitas that day, and after her speech as I handed her her plate she asked me if she could get extra chicken. I laughed, and told her not to bite the hands that fed her.


Why are you required to give certain portions when most college mess halls are unlimited eats upon entry?


Q: Why are you required to give certain portions? I’m in college where we all have unlimited meal plans. I don’t understand why I can’t have six more chicken nuggets without grabbing a second plate.

Random Response: Because they hope you’ll finish that plate and say “Ah fuyck it, I’m done” instead of going up for seconds

Lunch Lady: (in response to the above) That too. Cuts down on waste.

Lunch Lady: It’s a production/inventory thing.

Health codes require us to measure out serving sizes which are counted to see how much of that certain food should be ordered for the next shipment. It’s also so that we don’t run out of food as fast.

When there are a lot of students in line, we can’t dump three servings of food on every plate. We would be giving out faster than we can prepare, and that looks bad on performance. Especially when there are big-wigs walking about. When there isn’t food out, we get into a LOT of trouble.


Lunch ladies appreciate you trying to make them smile


Statement: I always make the effort to talk to the lunch ladies and get you girls to smile 🙂 

Lunch Lady: We appreciate people like you! Thank YOU for being awesome!! 😀

Q: Do ever just look at the kids you serve and fear for the future of the world?

Lunch Lady: Every day.


The anonymous apology…

Redditor Effex: When I was in Junior High, me and a few hipster classmates would “rebel” and be complete assholes to all of the school staff members. Lunch ladies would be at the top of our list, because it was easy. We would do typical, dumb, obnoxious 12-year-old crap like shout profanities, make fun of, and just generally be disrespectful.

A particular day stands out in my mind above all the others – I was in line to get lunch and getting ready to harass the lunch ladies, one of my classmates was in front of me and we both went up to get served. He extends his tray, but as he does, the lunch lady accidentally misses her scoop of lasagna, and it falls on his sneakers. This kid, in half a second, becomes so furious, but also so excited that he can now take revenge on the lunch lady, that he picks up the lasagna, and flings it in her face.

The kid got suspended, but it wasn’t even about that. It was the look on her face. Complete and utter embarrassment. Shame. Sadness. I instantly thought of my mother, as she was about her age, and it made me tear up.

I stopped being disrespectful after that day, and every time I think back, I just cant forget that face.

On behalf of all of the immature, obnoxious kids out there: I apologize.

Lunch Lady: God, I’m tearing up just imagining it. And thank you for the apology. It does mean a lot.


Q: What is your favorite school lunch meal?


Lunch Lady: I love making fried rice! It’s a very popular dish, and it takes a long time to cook, so I have time to talk. (I sometimes have to cook in front of the kids. My line is like a hibachi bar of sorts every now and again. Fried rice is messy as hell, but a lot of fun at the same time.)

Q: What food seems to be the one that most kids dislike?

Lunch Lady: Mediterranean food. Hummus, Falafel, Gyros, Tabbouleh, Baba Ghanoush, etc.

Q: One time I took an extra grilled cheese when you weren’t looking. You mad?

Lunch Lady: Absolutely! Kids being smug about it and stealing things is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. If you want another sandwich, just ask me. If there isn’t a manager around, I’ll give you one. I honestly don’t care to give you more than that if you want it, as long as you don’t get me into trouble.

CrunchyLumpia: A few of my friends (not me) used to smuggle entire pies out of the dining hall in their backpacks. The next year, dessert was no longer self-serve.

Lunch Lady: That’s kinda funny actually. I never took whole pies, but I remember taking a pineapple once before I worked there.


Q: Have you ever spat in the food of one of the kids who treated you like crap?


Lunch Lady: I’ve been very tempted to on multiple occasions. Instead, I just give them really small portions of what they ask for so that I don’t get in trouble, and they’re still irritated. 😛

Q: When serving people, do you give nicer, prettier, skinnier people bigger portions?


Lunch Lady: The nice ones, absolutely.

And I’ll sometimes give the “prettier” ones more – that’s just human nature, I think. The more attractive you are, the better you will be treated. I don’t go out of my way to make it a life-changing experience, but I do let them get away with a bit more. I do it also for the kids that look like they’re having a shitty day.

I try to help out anyone that I can.

Q: Would you eat the food you serve? Do you think it’s particularly nutritious? If you could change one thing about school lunches, what would they be?

Lunch Lady: I eat it every day. And it’s balanced nutritionally. We don’t use a lot of processed crap where I work. There are a few things that I’m not particularly fond of – there’s a sauce we use for sweet’n sour dishes that is a little questionable, but that’s about all I can think of atm. And I don’t know if I’d really change anything. I like the way we do things now.


Most of my food comes from work


Lunch Lady: I have to be really shady about it though. We have a policy that we aren’t supposed to leave with food without paying for a whole meal (it’s a buffet in my building) which is way beyond reasonable.

Short side story: last semester I came in on a day I didn’t work and got one of those nasty fish sandwich squares, and our crazy register troll saw me, called the location manager, and I had to come back and drop 8 dollars on one lousy piece of fish product. It was the end of the semester so there wasn’t anything else to eat when I came back. I was very upset.)

I take out food in paper cups so it looks like I’m taking out soda on the cameras. When I don’t bring stuff back home, I have some home canned vegetables and the basics — eggs, milk, bread. In short, I don’t eat much when I’m not at work.

Also, since I have such a sad income, I qualify for food stamps. I don’t get much, but it’s enough to get me through the weekends.

In conclusion: have respect for all, especially those feeding you.

Note: Stories/Questions/Answers edited for grammar, punctuation and context.


This New ‘Cafeteria Goddess’ is Winning the Hearts of Chinese University Students


The boys in the cafeteria are once again drooling over their cafeteria lady in China.

Pictures of a new “cafeteria goddess” have recently surfaced on the Chinese Internet, adding fuel to the China craze of beautiful people working ordinary day jobs. Yan, the newly crowned lunchtime goddess is a student at Jiangxi Normal University.


The third-year student recently accepted a work-study program at her campus cafeteria. According to Shanghaiist, Yan took the job not seeking money nor fame, but needed some good old working experience. She describes herself as very ordinary and strives to prove herself through her hard work.


The humble goddess has only increased the love from her admirers by her modesty. One head over heels fan said, “She’s beautiful on the outside, but her heart is even more so.”

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Some have even commented on her easygoing personality that makes her more likable.


Sina reported that Yan has attracted business for the cafeteria where she works and serves meat and steamed rice.


Written by Editorial Staff, NextShark


Cultural Difference Between Google And Microsoft Boils Down To Their Food


via Google Careers

“Why does Microsoft not have free food like Google and Facebook?” asked a Quora user, on the popular question-and-answer website.

That is the burning question only someone deciding between kush-level tech company jobs would ask, amiright? Likely, this question was a genuine inquiry of someone trying to decide which employer would make them the happiest.


That in mind, Amin Ariana, an ex-Googler, jumped in with a very eloquent and fascinating response that breaks down Microsoft and Google’s differing food plans as a statement on their respective company cultures.

To legitimize his response, Amin reminds that he’s “worked at both Microsoft and Google. They both have great food inside the campus to optimize the use of employee time.”

Then comes the analysis based on the company’s benefits, Microsoft’s food is not free (although reportedly very delicious), while Google’s is apparently all-inclusive. He broke it down the way those of whom subscribe to Star ñWars and Star Trek might understand:

Microsoft culturally sees food through the lens of Star Wars: a capitalist empire with many free-market options that you vote for with your wallet. They pay you enough to think with your money.

Google culturally sees food through the lens of Star Trek: a socialist empire in search of truth, where the basics of life are made free for you to focus on the complicated. This also helps them in the competitive job market of Silicon Valley.

When I was at Microsoft, I lost weight. When I was at Google, I gained 15 pounds. I liked my work just the same. I suppose this means a thin capitalist and a fat socialist live within me.

Knowing the above, how do meal plans actually translate into productivity according to an ex-pat of two seemingly different tech giants? Does one option or the other make you more happy? Is this all just fancy smoke-and-mirrors to convince you that your work means something?

Amin continues:

The most productive I’ve been, however, is working for my own startup – where I neither get paid nor can afford to have somebody else prepare the food.

Meaningful work and compensation are nearly independent variables.

Fascinating — so we’ve learned that those working at startups with no money, according to Amin Ariana, will keep their team of unpaid interns more efficient because they don’t have to think about first-world tech giant lunch problems. They just starve — or something.

And there it is — Microsoft employees use their exorbitant salaries to pay for, and eat exactly what they want for lunch. At Google, their aim is to not waste any decision-making power on non-essential life decisions like bantering for 40 minutes over Gchat with your co-worker about Chipotle.

Microsoft is like Star Wars, Google is like Star Trek. Both enjoyable if you like the characters and mission, but the perks, and subsequently the food, had little bearing on their happiness. Thanks ex-Googler for answering the public Quora question, and subsequently sending me into an existential mindset about everything I’m working towards.


This School District Got Caught Serving Six-Year-Old Meat


Students of the Hawkins County school system in Tennessee were served expired meat in the cafeteria. How old was the meat? Reports say that the pork roast served to the students sat in the cafeteria freezers since 2009.


The Hawkins County commissioner, Michael Herrel, received a photo last week of the six-year-old pork roast in question from a cafeteria cook. The cook worked at Joseph Rogers Primary School, which happened to be the only school in the county that didn’t serve the years-old pork to its students.

Another cook from Cherokee High School also spoke to Herrel, who also was a parent, and told him that the meat there went bad as well. However, the cook’s manager simply told him to cover it in gravy to mask the taste.

According to USDA rules, roast should be served between four to 12 months.

The school county will begin an inventory of all its meats as well as perform random inspections to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. So far there have been no reported illnesses from the pork.

Photo: WBay