Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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OrganicLife update: Still no coffee shop, staff lunches for Central

Central+students+wait+to+pick+up+food+from+Centrals+cafe.+Centrals+food+is+provided+by+OrganicLife%2C+who+are+in+their+first+year+as+District+203s+food+service+provider.
Nolan Shen
Central students wait to pick up food from Central’s cafe. Central’s food is provided by OrganicLife, who are in their first year as District 203’s food service provider.

Nearly a year ago, Principal Jackie Thornton first announced plans install a coffee shop in the space once occupied by Central’s school store. But after a change in food service providers and over three months of delays, the coffee shop has yet to be installed.

The untouched store is just one example of OrganicLife’s shortcomings as they’ve continued to get situated in the new school district after becoming District 203’s official food service provider in July.

“[OrganicLife is] just getting their operation up-and-running in all of the schools in our district; [that’s] taking up all of their capacity at this point,” Thornton said.

Although Thornton had originally planned to open a coffee shop in the school store at the start of the school year, those plans were postponed until OrganicLife got “settled” in the new school district. In September, Thornton set up plans to discuss the proposal during mid-October.

To this point, no such meeting has occurred between Thornton and OrganicLife.

“I email them about once a month to say ‘are you ready?’” Thornton said. “[We’re] still waiting for that meeting.”

Thornton has currently planned a meeting with the food service provider in February, although she’s prepared for them to decline the idea of a coffee shop. In an April 2023 survey, 78% of Central students and staff indicated interest for an in-house coffee shop.

Delays in the coffee shop aren’t the only struggle OrganicLife has dealt with a semester into their contract. The Staff Caf—where food is meant to be served for teachers—has remained without food since the pandemic.

“The issue is staffing,” said Spanish teacher Eric Kaisling, who used to eat from the Staff Caf once weekly. “Oftentimes the student lines are down a line, and they’ll take the person who was in the Staff Caf and put them on a register [in the student cafeteria].”

An area that once mimicked the grab-and-go salad bar in the student cafeteria now remains barren. What had served as an opportunity for faculty to quickly take a soup or sandwich now leaves them grabbing for air.

While the Staff Caf has remained empty even while Aramark was District 203’s food service provider, some teachers were hopeful that a change to OrganicLife would have reopened the facility. To this point, those hopes have not been fulfilled.

“We’ve had turnover in terms of the company in charge of the food; it’s all about the bid for the district,” Kaisling said. “It’s been [an] ever-evolving [situation].”

OrganicLife did not respond to a request for comment.

“I wanted the coffee shop to be open at the beginning of this school year,” Thornton said. “One way or another, it should be open at the beginning of next school year.”

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About the Contributors
C.J. Getting
C.J. Getting, News Editor
C.J. is a junior entering his third year on Staff for the Central Times. He’s always loved writing news, and is excited to work as the News Editor this year. When he’s not writing for CT, C.J. can be found captaining the Debate Team or helping out SAC or JSA. He also desperately needs to detox from volunteering. After graduation, C.J. hopes to major in Political Science and spend too much money on Law School someday.
Nolan Shen
Nolan Shen, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Nolan is a senior, entering his third year on staff. He is excited to be heading the Arts and Entertainment section this year. When not writing for CT, he can be found playing with the Marching Redhawks Drumline, performing in the Naperville Youth Symphony, eating too much McDonald’s, and watching bad sci-fi movies. Next year, he plans on going to college to study political science and hopefully not flunk out.
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