Schools may have reset, but families have not

Post COVID, many schools and teachers have begun to call this 2022-2023 school year the ‘reset year.’ For the first time since the pandemic began, schools have fully transitioned back to normalcy. In response to COVID relief funds, school lunch was free for all students in both the 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 school year. This year, lunch is $3.25. Underclassmen and upperclassmen alike are avoiding the school lunches because they feel it is unfair to have to pay the cost.

The COVID relief funds were provided to the school in 2020 because families were struggling to afford basic necessities. People began to lose their jobs as companies lost their source of income from the lack of business. The government began to provide supplement checks to unemployed households as well to help support families in times of need. 

Inflation is at an all time high, and families are struggling even more now than ever. Households have not recovered from the pandemic, especially as gas prices continue to rise. Families are no longer receiving government assistance, which further contributes to the financial crisis they are experiencing.

Many students argue that the price of $3.25 is too much money to be paying for school lunches. Many do not receive money from their parents. Without jobs to help contribute, students lack the funds to pay for lunch themselves. School lunches cost an average of $2.25-$2.75; therefore lunches are even more expensive than they were before the pandemic. School lunches also provide balanced meals with healthier options that students cannot get from home. 

Most of the students cannot remember a time when school lunch cost money. The current seniors had their freshman year cut short by the pandemic. Since then, every student has had free lunch, regardless of the school they attended. Students are shocked and outraged, causing a school-wide boycott on all school lunches. With a lack of students eating lunch, the school will continue to lose money as these meals will go uneaten. Particularly the junior class, students are missing meals by refusing to bring food from home, going completely without eating the entire day. 

Many still argue that paying for school lunch is a necessity. School lunch may be more expensive, but this is a fact caused by inflation. The price of all items has increased. While this may be true, household incomes are continuing to decrease. Families do not have the money to pay for school lunches at a higher price. 

It is unrealistic to ask students to pay for school lunches considering the current economic status of families across the country. School should be the one place where students are guaranteed food, if not for their health, then for their education. Students need food to learn.