Goodfellas lunch program promises organic, handmade food at lower cost

Goodfellas 4 Kids prevailed over two other  similar programs in the fight for Country Day lunch provider dominance.

On Nov. 5, the school changed from the  Bay Area-based LunchMaster to Goodfellas, a lunch service based in Sacramento.

Goodfellas provides lunches to six other independent schools ranging from pre-schools to high schools serving close to 200 students.

The schools vary from Merryhill Elementary schools in Natomas to Phoenix Elementary in Folsom.

According to Bill Petchauer, chief financial officer, many features contributed to the change.

Goodfellas requires only a day’s notice to prepare a meal. But LunchMaster required students to order lunches for the following week by the previous Thursday.

The price was also reduced from $5.10 to $4.25.

And lunches can be more easily distributed because each lunch is labeled with the student’s name, Petchauer said.

The move was also prompted by a dramatic drop in the number of lunches ordered from LunchMaster.

When LunchMaster first came to the school, they sold about 80 meals a day, but that number had decreased by half.

Only about 14 percent of the high school  ordered LunchMaster lunches before the transition.

Junior Patrick Talamantes attributes the drop in meals to the quality of the food.

Most days the food was “awful,” Talamantes said.

“I learned that anything with taco sauce or red sauce made the food taste better,” Talamantes said.

Freshman Serajh Esmail said that the pizza had the texture of “rubber” and tasted “processed.”

Other students complained about the portion size.

Freshman Colby Conner stopped ordering from LunchMaster because “some days I just wasn’t getting enough to eat,” he said.

Goodfellas owner George Baratta said he cooks everything himself and purchases the majority of the ingredients at the local farmers market.

Baratta employs about four others that help with delivery and packaging.

“What sets us apart from LunchMaster is our outstanding customer service and how our food is homemade,” he said.

Almost all of Baratta’s lunches are made from scratch and almost all of the food is organic, he said.

Baratta also explained that everything is cooked the day it is served and is never reheated.

Talamantes agrees that the food is an improvement.

“The popcorn chicken was good.  The food doesn’t taste as fake (anymore),” said Talamantes.

In an Octagon poll four students preferred Goodfellas, while three preferred the older program.

Despite preferring Goodfella’s lunches, only 10 high schoolers order from the new provider.

However, Esmail is dissatisfied. “LunchMaster had more of a variety of entrée choices and more options,” Esmail said.

Goodfellas offers four entrees while LunchMaster offered eight.

The entrees are $4.25 for a regular size and $5.25 for a larger meal. Each meal comes with either fresh fruit, vegetables or a healthy snack and a beverage.

Desserts vary from 75-cent cookies to $1 apple pies.

For birthdays, Goodfellas has the option for cupcakes or birthday boxes that include “three fun items” and a cupcake.

Snacks, provided by the Parents’ Association in the past, have been discontinued and will not be provided by the new program.

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