Students’ wait in line is much shorter now that the school is charging for lunch. After two and a half years, students are now charged for lunch in the cafeteria. (Saydria Ostler)
Students’ wait in line is much shorter now that the school is charging for lunch. After two and a half years, students are now charged for lunch in the cafeteria.

Saydria Ostler

Should school lunches be free?

Following a return to normalcy, students are now required to pay for their school lunches, or bring a lunch from home. Students have mixed opinions on this new change.

August 12, 2022

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.

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Paying for school lunch only makes cents

This year, students are now required to pay for lunch and breakfast. For the past two and a half years (ever since the coronavirus became rampant), the school has provided free lunch and breakfast to any students who want it. But as a part of this year’s return to normal initiative, students have to pay for school breakfast or lunch-and it is only fair that they do!

Many students are upset that the school is now charging for school food because they are used to not having to. But as most seniors will remember, students have had to pay for food in the past. COVID presented extenuating circumstances for everyone, so the school footed the bill with the COVID relief fund. But now as we are returning to normal, it only makes sense for the school to charge for lunch now. 

A number of students have their parents pay for lunch. When paying for school lunch, students enter their student ID number-the charges are attached to the student’s account, and for the majority of students, parents provide the money for that account. Or, if your parents refuse to pay for school lunches, students can brown bag their own lunch. There are other alternatives to the school cafeteria. 

Last year, many students can recall standing in lunch lines for what felt like most of the lunch time. This year, the lines are significantly shorter. Because more people are not eating school lunch simply because it is free, the wait in the lunch lines are significantly shorter. There are also upsides to paying for lunch. 

Some students were shocked to find out that they had to pay for lunch. But the school gave fair warning to the students and the parents that they would no longer be provided with free lunches and breakfasts. But the school still provides lunches and breakfasts to those in need. 

At the end of the day, paying for school lunches is not the end of the world. If you do not want to pay for lunch, then bring your own food or make your parents pay for it! In the school’s return to normal, it only makes sense for the cafeteria to return to normal as well. 

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