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The Aquilian

    Gonzaga students review SAGE meals on Instagram

    Mr. Nick Pugliese (left) joins with Pierce Rodell (right) for a quick lunch review. Photo submitted by @gonzagalunchreviews

    Every day, seniors Pierce Rodell and Carter Long set out to give the student body a review of the meals offered by SAGE. From the table closest to the doors of the cafeteria, they film each segment so it can later be put on their Instagram page, all for the benefit of the student body.

    On their page @gonzagalunchreview, they have filmed more than 10 detailed reviews since the start of the first semester with more to come. They say that the ratings they give are purely fueled by the meal that day and that any judgment given comes from that moment without any kind of checklist or other systems. 

    “We keep [the ratings] pretty casual; I imagine that’s how most students do it,” Long said.

    He finds it best for them to draw on their over 35 collective years of food tasting to generate their opinions with occasional help from guests, such as Mr. Nick Pugliese, social studies teacher. 

    “My favorite faculty interview was with Mr. Pugliese just because of how good of a public speaker he is,” said Rodell. “He had unique descriptions and analysis of the food.”

    Their reports are one from the perspective of the student made specifically for the student. 

    The job isn’t without competition though, as a rival food review page @gonzagafoodreview has also been sampling SAGE on Instagram and started up this year. Unlike Long’s and Rodell’s Instagram feed, this account only posts photos of the food with a rating. 

    I reached out to @gonzagafoodreview, but they did not respond to my request to comment for this story.

    SAGE during the lunch rush
    Students begin to arrive for 7C lunch. Photo by Chris Kaelin

    The changes at SAGE over the years have been closely viewed by both Long and Rodell, who both seem to be pleased with the developments. The nostalgia of freshman lunches is hard to compete with, but SAGE has been on the ball so far this semester and students have taken note.

    “Food comes out much quicker, especially fried foods,” Long said while thinking back to past years. “The menu options have been pretty decent. [SAGE] is definitely course-correcting itself.” 

    For those curious about what to pick, Long says you can’t go wrong with the shredded chicken tacos. 

    “By themselves [the tacos are] pretty mid, but if you drown it in chipotle sauce… elite,” Long said.

    The only significant change Long would like to see made is bringing back the soda machine that was present prior to COVID.

    Upperclassmen and teachers probably are the first to notice the changes that  SAGE has had in recent years. Mrs. Jen Doherty, director of events for alumni and advancement, has been Gonzaga’s liaison with SAGE for the past few years, and she has made it very clear what those changes have been over the past few years.

    Despite setbacks due to the pandemic, she has worked harder than ever to provide students with the opportunity to enjoy school lunches. The prior system that consisted of paying for each item daily has been done away with and replaced with the current situation of all one can eat under her supervision.

    “We started looking at [all you can eat] as a way to not take away the good food that you guys all liked, but also giving you the opportunity to eat more healthy options without ruining your lunch experience,” Mrs. Doherty said. 

    The current system has been put in place with the intention of not only increasing the options available to students but also encouraging them to get healthier ones, as well. Where most students would spend their lunch getting pizza and fries in 2018, now students can grab their favorite meal and combine it with a salad or even food from another station. 

    The system did not come without issues, though; during the first semester this year, many of the parts required to get everything up to speed were still sitting on a boat in the middle of the ocean, severely limiting their capacity to make lunch. SAGE workers powered through though, and students were still able to get the meals they wanted promptly. In January, the parts finally arrived for both the fried food and sandwich stations, and since then, it has been much smoother sailing with more food available to students than ever before.

    The pandemic has caused more issues than just shipping slowdowns though, as many schools across the country were shut down due to COVID. Staff and student safety has been a top priority to Mrs. Doherty, and she is intent on not allowing the virus to negatively affect lunches. SAGE will continue to keep up its hard work and finish out the school year strong with more changes to layout and meal options likely to come in future years. They will also continue to build off of student suggestions, as many in the community have their own opinions.

    “While being able to have more food and eat until I am full is great, I think the system my freshman year was better,” said Kevin Coffee, junior. “There was always some food that appealed to everybody, and there were more options for beverages and sides.”


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      Leslie KeiserMar 17, 2022 at 8:30 am

      What a fun article, Chris.