GHS Student Government Leaders Talk Trash in Student Center, Staff Cuts, Loss of Muffins at Cardinal Café

At the Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, chaired by vice chair Karen Hirsh because chair Karen Kowalski was unable to attend, Greenwich High School student body president Caleb Kaalund said the students were very concerned about the proposed reduction of six teachers at the school.

“We care deeply about the future of GHS and the success of students, which is why we will continue to make our voices heard and push back against this proposed change,” he said.

Student government vice president testifies at the March 21, 2024 BOE meeting. (Zoom screenshot)

Student body vice president Omar Galal said at the beginning of the school year there had been hope that the school’s student center redesign would coincide with an improved attitude about throwing out trash.

Over the decades, there have been numerous efforts to encourage students to clear their tables after lunch in the student center, and in more recent years to separate out recyclables.

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Compass Yearbook 1972.

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Beginnings of a tradition. Post-lunch litter in what was then a brand new GHS in early 70s. Compass yearbook.

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Lunch is over. GHS student center 2012. Credit: Leslie Yager

“While this was the case for a couple of months, the trash issue has  recently re-emerged,” Omar added.

“There has never been a clear answer to the trash question,” he continued. “Notwithstanding, student government is working to mitigate this issue. We are working on a proposal for a new, permanent arrangement of our trash cans with high hopes that the strategic placement of trash cans will reduce levels of trash across the student center.”

Two of the last muffins sold at Greenwich High School in 2024.

Further he said GHS student government remained concerned about the school’s involvement in the National School Lunch Program.

He said the program’s nutritional requirements had negatively impacted serving sizes as well as student interest in school lunch.

“Decline in student interest also means decline in sales, which will certainly be the case in coming months when our highly coveted muffins are removed from the cafeteria in order to abide by NSLP requirements,” Omar said.

For years GHS students have enjoyed the muffins in the Cardinal Café. In fact in 2014 one candidate for student government president had fought off a price increase and printed up t-shirts that said “Muffin Man.” (He won.)

Seven years ago students were overjoyed after an RFP was issued and Garden Catering won with their bid to provide nuggets and potato cones to Cardinal Café. At the time then manager of food services, Vicki Gregg, said the addition to the menu had given a boost to the entire lunch program.

Omar encouraged the board to opt GHS out of the program, but to also ensure there would be clear communication between the board and Food Services to make ensure there would be no further “mix up” like there had been this year.

BOE member Cody Kittle asked for clarification why the muffins were coming off the menu so far into the school year.

Ms Hirsh said the “muffin comment” related to the National School Lunch Program, and that the muffins failed to meet the nutritional requirements for the program.

She said traditionally the district opted into the program for students in grades 4-8, but opted out at the high school level for multiple reasons.

“Last year we were opted back into the National School Lunch Program at the high school level, which we were not necessarily aware of, due to the fact we were still able to get free breakfasts. And for some reason were were opted back in due to that. We’re doing a workaround for next year.”

“There’s going to be a lot of very sad students,” she said. “We’re doing a workaround for next year. We’re opting back out.”

“Could we ignore that and breaking the rule?” Kittle asked.

Ms Hirsh said that was not ideally a discussion to have at a public meeting.

Dr. Jones explained that during Covid the school district had opted back into the program because at the time there was Covid funding for free lunch to expand it beyond just those students who qualified.

“It was pretty much free lunch for everybody – and a lot of sack lunches. We wouldn’t have gotten any reimbursement if we didn’t opt back in,” she added. “It’s just a matter of getting back off now and that is the request. Next year we should be back to normal.”

Ms Hirsh said it had been sad news for her to deliver to the student government executive committee, and that the program impacted more than just muffins.

“It also impacts the portion size at the high school just don’t fill up a student properly,” Hirsh said. “There are a bunch of reasons we shouldn’t have been opted back in for the lunch portion of it.”

“It’s a great lesson for kids about letting big government into the lunch room,” Kittle said.

After a long pause, Ms Hirsh said, “It is a larger discussion to be had.”

See also:

Garden Catering Nuggets & Cones at GHS Cardinal Café Boost to Entire Menu February 2017