Food service manager answers questions about school lunch


By Alexandria Buchanan

Mitch Arnold is McKinley High School’s food service manager. He has worked at McKinley High since 1995.

Dawson Langinbelik and Aidan Sakaio

Q: During the freshmen assembly, one of the administrators said that McKinley serves the best food. What do you think about that?

Arnold: I take great pride in what we do for you folks. This is why I, and I’m not really an “I” person, try to provide the best we can for you folks. I mean no other high school gives you guys what we give you or offer what we try to offer you folks. We try to provide the best food we can to you folks.

If you have a suggestion or stuff like that, come and talk to me. McKinley High School started a lot of stuff, you know. Only through experimentation and kids coming to me and saying, “Mr. Arnold, what about this?” or “What about that?” You know the Portuguese sausage and scrambled eggs, with the rice? That originated from McKinley High School back from 1995. That’s why it’s a part of the statewide breakfast menu.

You know the nachos? They were incorporated here in 1995. It all was based on the kids’ suggestions. … For decades, we’ve instilled the minimum requirement for you students to consume, and still maintain a healthy diet. … We used to make our own cinnamon rolls, until last year, raisin-cinnamon rolls, excellent. I mean, it was big, tasty, soft, stuff like that. A lot of you kids don’t know that a lot of these alternate meals were created at this high school, and they were shared with other schools. We really try, and I took great pride, no, I still take great pride, even though I am in my waning years and about to retire. I still take great pride in what I do. I mean, I still yell at people, but not as often as I used to…but I care. That’s the bottom line. I care. Anything’s wrong, and I’ll fix it.

Q: Are there any changes that need to be done in the cafe?

Arnold: I see a lot of things … but I can’t because my hands are tied. … All of these rules that are coming out…. I would love to create my own menu, which I did, all the way back from 1995 up until around the middle 2000’s, and then now we have to watch how much calories you guys consume during breakfast and lunch every day.

Kids are complaining, especially at the high school level. I can understand elementary because you’re talking to your friend at the table, you’re eating, and in middle school you just eat and stuff like that. But in high school, you’re already smart, so you know what you’re eating. They know what they want to eat and what they don’t want to eat. Give them a choice. This is why I would say … Make a menu to where we can have choices that the kids will like to eat, and put more school-made stuff.

Let me give you an example. Before, almost 90 percent of our food was made in school. We used to serve many different items. Some of it is pretty good. The teriyaki chicken is great, and the nachos seem to be pretty good. But when you come down to, like, Italian sausage pizza, put some vegetables on that. Try and make it look attractive. Make it look like a supreme pan pizza. This chicken bowl, I don’t know who thought about that. We used to serve baked chicken.

Q: What’s your favorite food to serve?

Arnold: More than one. … I like the Asian chicken. I like the nachos. I like the Italian spaghetti. We’re trying to improve the meat sauce. The kalua pork with spinach beats the one with cabbage. We’re also trying to improve the meat sauce for the creole macaroni. … I really don’t like the chicken mash bowl. And the chicken corn scallop, I think we should put more chicken thigh on that and use better cream sauce.