Frozen Yogurt in the Cafeteria?

By Benji Kapelke

School lunch. Stereotypes make it seem like a disgusting combination of random things that the lunch lady decides to throw into her pot. Well, the downside of school lunch is exaggerated–I mean, it’s not that bad. But let me assure you–at Bay Farm School, it’s no five-star restaurant.

Bay Farm has the smallest food menu of middle schools in Alameda. This is most likely because it has a similar menu to the elementary school kids. Other schools in Alameda have options to purchase more sugary foods, like Pop-Tarts. Bay Farm does not have items like these, however. This is most likely because it is an elementary school as well as a middle, and elementary parents tend to want their kids to have healthier foods. Parents start giving their kids a little more independence in terms of food choices as their children get older.

When at Lincoln Middle School for volleyball practice, 7th grader Levi Serrano noticed something on the wall that could possibly get Bay Farm one step closer to being on Lincoln’s level, in terms of food. “I saw a poster for fro-yo on the wall and I thought, ‘Whoa, that’s really cool,’ and that’s how the idea originated,” Serrano said.

Fro-yo, short for frozen yogurt, is a dessert that’s like ice cream but is made with yogurt. Serrano says that if frozen yogurt does get added to our lunch menu, the flavors available will be “the originals: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.” He even mentioned the possibility of options for people who are gluten-free and dairy-free.

That sounds simple at first–after all, Lincoln has it–why can’t Bay Farm? Looking into it, though, there are a lot of if’s about this idea. The first one is money. When asked about how he was going to introduce this dessert into the cafeteria, Levi said: “Well, the first step for me was asking the head of food services, and he said, ‘let’s do it’, so for me, at the moment, it’s just getting the money to make it happen.”

Bay Farm Middle School is significantly smaller than Lincoln Middle School. According to niche.com, Lincoln has 833 students attending the school, while Bay Farm has only 637, in the entire 9 grade levels–which means Bay Farm has a smaller crowd to buy this dessert and less chance for profit.

It is not cheap to install a frozen yogurt machine. Prices range from $4,000 to $17,000 according to frozenyogurtmix.com–not to mention getting multiple (one per flavor). That would mean it would take about 1600-2000 $2.00-2.50 fro-yo cups, which is the price Serrano estimated, in order to break even on cost. Not to mention, the other costs that come with this machine, such as cups to hold the fro-yo and the ingredients to make it. Making a profit from this new cafeteria item could potentially be difficult.

When Mrs. Sullivan, the 8th-grade core teacher for Bay Farm, was asked about the current situation and progress of this new introduction to the cafeteria, she said, “My understanding right now, is a conversation had been held regarding frozen yogurt, but there is no certainty at this time as to when it will be integrated into the school. There is interest. It seems like Mrs. Crawford was on board, but we have to let the district, or the higher-ups, make the decision. (It is at a) very basic stage right now, because Mrs. Crawford isn’t even here to make the go-ahead. Until she is here to make the decision, there will not be a decision.”

Even if frozen yogurt does get added, though, will it even be worth it? The fro-yo would still be school food, after all, so the quality, of course, would not be the highest. We interviewed one former Bay Farm student, who now attends Lincoln, 7th-grader Chase Carson, to see what he thought about the fro-yo, at the very place where Levi saw the poster. Regarding the quality, Chase said, “The fro-yo is kind of good, but it tastes kind of like, I don’t know. (Pause) It is good actually, now that I think of it. It doesn’t taste like yogurt. It’s not, like, real yogurt.” We then asked how it compared to a popular frozen yogurt business a little more than a mile away from Lincoln. “Yeah, (Yogafina) is better,” Chase said.

Levi Serrano has worked hard to get to the place he is now with this frozen yogurt project, but a couple more things have to happen and a couple more things have to go Levi’s way in order to get this treat in the Bay Farm cafeteria.

For now, we’ll just sit and wait with our plastic spoons at the ready.

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