Opinions // School Lunch: What’s in it?

NAHS lunch

NAHS lunch

Kaytlin Cahill, Journalism Student

Students to this day still complain about what food their school provides daily. Most just grab some chips and a soda to “hold” themselves over till they get home. Some don’t even eat because of the low quality food. Schools need better food for those who don’t have food available at home all the time.

If schools are going to spend $14.2 billion on food, can’t they at least have it taste good? According to USDA, they offer free meals but they also offer low cost prices and full prices for school lunches. One third of college students skip a meal, some reasons may include food insecurity or it could be the cost of the food.

NAHS has vending machines that used to be open all day long for students to grab snacks throughout the school day. But recently we have had to close the machines due to the number of students who have been abusing the machines by getting out of class and skipping class.

54% of students say that they take the same food and don’t have a variety in the lunch boxes, according to Business Wire. While 70% of parents also say they struggle with being able to create a variety of different foods in their children’s lunch boxes. About 30% of students say that they eat snacks/other things sold at school instead of the school lunches, according to siittnet. Siitnet also states that about 40% of school lunches are wasted.

Business Wire says that 84% of students bring home lunches to school.

“I do think it is better for students to “discover what they love to eat” instead of adults at their school “telling them what they should eat.” When I was in elementary school, I would see my friends grab an apple or some type of vegetable because it was mandatory. At the end of the period, they would throw it out because they didn’t even want it in the first place. I believe that if a child is forced to complete a task, they cannot decide for themselves and pick up those healthy habits in the end.” said Carla Luna, from The New York Times article, What Students Are Saying About Improving School Lunch?

NAHS offers free meals throughout the 2021-2022 school year. This is how every school should be, even college students deserve a free lunch during school hours. We offer free lunches and breakfasts for the 21-22 school year, but if one wishes for extra snacks or drinks those are going to cost money. 77% of high school students say that they don’t like school lunches, according to The Washington Post.

On the other hand, about 900 parents say that the schools shouldn’t allow sugary foods and snacks, instead replace them with healthier and better things, such as fruit, vegetables, sugar free food, according to the National Library of Medicine. More teachers believe that soft drinks and snacks shouldn’t be allowed in schools, compared to the smaller group of teachers that think it’s fine how it is right now. 

At NAHS, they just recently added an ice cream bar to the snack bar. Students have been stopping by for snacks and now ice cream instead of school lunches. Just giving them more of a reason to to eat school food.

But some parents are worried about their students eating junk food everyday or eating the same thing everyday. According to BMC, high school students eat a higher amount of snack-like food rather than the school lunches. But for college students who have an open campus, they are more likely to eat at a fast food restaurant than the school cafeteria. But for those who don’t have an open campus, they are more likely to buy food from the school’s vending machines. BMC also says that 31% of students eat from the vending machines, snacks and sodas.

Affordability is a big thing in some schools because of the price of the different food. Some students struggle with affording the school lunch so they get a reduced price by 40 cents, stated by Healthy-Food-Choices-In-Schools. But some schools have free lunches due to COVID-19. About 20 million free meals are offered nationwide according to the School Nutrition Association.  More than 40% of students bring their lunch to school according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service data. 

Students often complain about the school food and the quality of the food. Parents wonder why their students don’t eat at school, it’s the food. The food is usually reheated in a microwave instead of cooking it from scratch. This isn’t the lunch staff’s fault, this is the fault of those who tell us what to serve our students. We spend so much on that food only to waste it in the garbage can. The quality of the food provided by schools isn’t the best it can be.

 Parents and students alike are upset by the low quality given in a school environment. This needs to be solved, for those who can’t afford food at home and for those who are just hungry and need a meal to get their brains started for school.