The End of Free Lunches

Federal policy ends no-cost meals; return to the days of pay for food


Natalie Schaefer

Left: junior Jacob Holthaus and senior Brooke Morley at lunch together having a fun time sitting with friends.

35% of students still buy their lunch every day according to Director of child nutrition services Rachael Mintz. 

According to junior Krysie Bell, she still buys lunch but also brings lunch. 

Why were the lunches free last year, and can they still be free for some this year? 

Last year, school lunch was free for all students because local and federal governments put
waivers in place to allow the Nutrition Services Department to operate outside our normal rules, and receive additional funding to feed all children under the age of 18.

 Mintz said that the only students who receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch this year are students whose families qualify for free or reduced price lunch. 

¨I think that the food not being free anymore is unreasonable,¨ Bell said. Many students at Central have been wanting more free lunches. 

It is surprising that many kids still have to paying for meals during summer. As the SNA says, ¨Every child deserves a carefree summer vacation, but for many kids, summer break means an end to the free and reduced price school meals they depend on during the school year.¨ 

Another interesting fact about school lunches from the SNA is, ¨Waivers allowed schools to distribute grab-and-go meals at drive through pick-up sites, deliver directly to student homes or along bus routes. Parents could pick up multiple days worth of grab-and-go meals at a time for remote learners without the child present.¨ This allowed students to eat and enjoy the comfort of being full.