Laguna makes a pizza switch

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If you have ever eaten the school cafeteria pizza, you have probably noticed there has been a change.

Last year’s version has been replaced by Papa Murphy’s.

The head of the school cafeteria, Tanya Raines, says the change was made because “the pizza that we served last year was a frozen product. We got it in frozen, and we had to prep it the day before. Papa Murphy’s delivers to us fresh every morning.”

Not only was the pizza fresher, but the taste also played a big factor in the switch. The Director of Food Services Michelle Drake explained,

“The students were getting tired of the same pizza.” She decided to go to freshly baked pizza instead, having about five different pizzas to choose from. “We taste test through student panels of about 20-30 students, from Laguna Creek and Valley High School.”

The National Honor Society was the panel here at Laguna Creek. The students were asked to choose the best out of 4 pizzas, unlabeled by brand but distinguished by different colors. Pink, representing Papa Murphy’s, won here at Laguna Creek, 81% of the students choosing it. Schwan’s, the previous year’s pizza, scored a 0.7%.

There are also small-scale tests for new pizza, like serving potential pizzas as specials. “This year we only did small-scale testing during summer school because we already had decided beforehand which pizza we were going to serve,” says Drake.

Although the switch sounded simple, there is some things that needed to be taken into account before switching over. The first was the budget.

Tanya Raines says “It all comes down to the USDA products we get. It all comes down to a price thing.”

The Director of Food Services was the one who actually crunched the numbers, and the final decision maker.

“The Papa Murphy’s is not financially cheaper, but similar in price to the product we were serving,” says Drake. Therefore she decided it was worth the switch.

The school district doesn’t make the decisions alone however, they have to keep with certain companies to stay within budget.

“The National School Lunch Program provides school districts the opportunity to purchase commodities, like cheese, chicken, and beef, at a discounted rate and have it made into a final product.” For example, last year food services were buying cheese and sending it to a company to make pizza, and they received a discount.  

“However, if we did not send cheese to the particular company, the cost of their pizza in the commercial market would have been $6.88 for a pepperoni pizza and $6.60 cheese pizza. Under our contract with Papa Murphy’s, we pay $6.50 per pizza.” says Drake.  

Although the change seems to have been done easily, there are some requirements the pizza has to pass. “We have to meet criteria for foods before even beginning the taste tests.” Drake says.

Tanya Raines finally added, “I can fluctuate a little bit, so long I stay within the guidelines that are set for us… the snack bar now has a different sandwich every day. Last year we had meatball sandwiches about three days a week. Now we have meatball sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, and chicken tortas, so we can fluctuate a little bit. But when it comes to the major decisions we have to go by what they guideline us.”  

Raines also explained Papa Murphy’s make the pizza very early in the morning, wrap and deliver to the school, allowing the pizza to be fresher.

“I laugh, I say we’re the middle men.The students are the customers, we the kitchen staff are the middle men, and the big bosses make all the decisions.”