End of pandemic brings close to free lunch

As the new school year begins, students are getting back into their routines by figuring out their classes, locating their lockers and finding their lunch spots. After two years of lunch being free due to COVID, the district decided to start charging money for lunches. This change may cause an adjustment in routines for students like Vivian Hall.

“I think it may make lots of kids not want to take the lunch anymore,” Hall said.“People don’t think it’s worth it to actually pay money to get the same lunch they got last year.”

Students like Hall saw free lunches as convenient; they could always rely on them being there and when there was no food at home they knew where to go.

“It was nice when it was free”, said Meredith Aredoski ’24, a student similar to Hall “I used to get it every day and now I decide not to eat it,” said Aredoski.

This decision wasn’t based on the school simply not wanting to provide it anymore. Phillip Peterson, the director of South’s food supplier, CHARTWELLSK12, shared his insight on the change.

“The federal government stopped providing assistance associated with the pandemic, which is what allowed for all students to eat for free,” Peterson said.

To compensate for the loss of free lunches, the school decided to provide free breakfasts for students to eat before classes.

“Studies have shown students who eat breakfast and lunch have two main benefits,” Peterson said. “First, academic benefits: improved cognitive function, better attention spans and higher test scores. Second, behavioral benefits: fewer absences, improved mood and better classroom behavior.”

”We still have to follow all nutrition guidelines set by the federal government,” Peterson said. “The supply chain is still a huge problem, but we just make moves every day to get students more and better choices. We will offer more new things over the next few weeks and months ahead as things become available.”

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